Monday 28 December 2020
Probably not the kind of thing that most people have in the house. I've had a pair of these in my hands for more than 40 years. When they lose their spring and get too bent, I bin them. Surprisingly I've never taken a pair apart. Today is that day. Simple crimped construction, so a few minutes with a pair of side cutters produced all the signal control or handrail wire I'll ever need.
Sunday 27 December 2020
I'm about 2/3 of the way though the track; just these last two points to do on the platform roads. As usual it's a little squeezy and there is is a lot of the Hopwood mentality in the approach. There is space for a 37/47 in the headshunt. No point for anything grander as it will get too big for the other end. To recap: these are the standard 43" long boards plus the Rhiw/Svanda fiddle yard, taking the overall to around 11'. Still not big, with the idea to be able to take the good bits from Rhiw and Hopwood and run some DMUs and parcels stock.
The building units are DPM and have been in Mr. Hill's care for probably 25 years waiting for a suitable use. Ideal for a non-specific industrial building that is only an inch deep. The area to the left will house another bland structure of a post office parcels building of the post war block type. his will drift away from the usual Wills sheet and probably move to a card/ Slater's brick to blend better with the DPM mouldings. Most of this will be masked by some tatty platform canopies still un-purchased from Ratio.
Wednesday 23 December 2020
An email from The Crowood Press yesterday informed me that my final tome for them was published yesterday, slightly earlier than expected. Decoded this means that the container was released from being holed up in Rotterdam and has been unloaded in Felixstowe. Anyhow, it's now available to purchase should you wish by clicking through the box to your right. It's the usual format: over a hundred pages of themed projects from the simple slate wagon on the cover, though etched brass kits et al. Actually the finished wagon on the cover is by Martin Collins in case you thought that I could get to that standard.
Tuesday 22 December 2020
I thought you might all have put your Christmas plans on hold as there was no conclusion to the Westykits cattle van test/review/build/twist. No? Well never mind as Mrs F. has just returned hotfoot from Tescos with the only thing they had left which was second hand toilet roll and figs, here's a photo of where it's up to. Transfers, weathering and couplings to do.
Saturday 12 December 2020
This is of course not so much a build as a rebuild: the boards are rescued from the GWR project, the gallows are the 12" wide set that were last used on Rhiw and the facia boards ditto. This meant that is was just a case of measuring and drilling new bolt holes for these at the appropriate spots.
I still need a name for this and indeed a more positive location. Suggestions on a five pound note please to the usual address.
With reference to the comments in the post below, I feel that this will explain. Not the classic pose, but close.
Wednesday 9 December 2020
Monday 7 December 2020
Saturday 5 December 2020
A while ago (July 2014) I wrote comment piece for RM praising the benefits of a large home layout. I touched on this briefly in another piece this year. Why is this important? Well it isn't particularly, except in yesterday's post I realised that I'd hit a turning point. Small though it maybe at 21" long the diving board (now with clamped leg) is a significant shift. Aside from a couple of nailed down bits of track for testing things, I haven't built a baseboard with track on it that wasn't destined in some way no matter how minor for public display for decades - unless you count this page of course. This was built for me.
Do railway modellers who build exhibition layouts run things at home other that for pre-show testing? In the main I would say no. Even our Mr. Hill with his developing slice of the SR in the back bedroom admits that it doesn't get a lot of running. The exhibition mindset is a deep-seated thing. I started showing things in about 1992-ish and haven't stopped since. The last thing that wasn't designed to wave in front of the public was a little 009 layout bolted to the wall in my first flat. That's more than 25 years ago.
I'm just embarking on another exhibition item (and possibly another next year for the boss which would be headed for Warley) but I keep asking why? The answer is because I can, because it's what I do and even if it just gets set up in Mr. Hill's spacious lounge and operated for a while, it's ticked the box.
Does the 21" of the diving board hint at something more significant with the return of exhibition possibly a year away? Does it count as extending around the room and more to the point... a home layout?
Friday 4 December 2020
Wednesday 2 December 2020
I had issues straight away. The axle boxes are separate as are the solebars. The latter is OK and the former was presumably for the finescalers to add rocking units more easily. The springs were unequal in length and the holes in the axle boxes matched badly with the W irons. I lined them up as best I could cosmetically and redrilled from the back though the W iron holes. This wasn't looking bad, but then it wasn't looking good either. Plus the floor had a slight wind in it.
Monday 30 November 2020
Slightly on the back of the last but one post and because maybe it's time for another build project on here, I had a rummage in the box. What came out (second, first was another Cambrian 16 tonner) was this Westykits LNER cattle wagon purchased a couple of years back off a club stand for £4.80. Cheap, old, different.
I don't know much about Westykits though this was marketed by, and possibly made by Ian Kirk. The question that I'm asking is, is this the same as the LNER cattle sold by Parkside (now Peco)? I tend to think not, though there are links. This is not the crisp moulding of Parkside. The diagram is dated as 'drawn by PMW 1980' making the kit 40 years old.
First impressions are good: it looks to be all there, in fact more than there as there are six buffer parts. The instructions are of course typed and copied as was the style then, and are backwards for me starting with the bodywork. The stand-out phase is, '...unless you are batch-building go and have a fag or a cuppa to give the plastic a chance to harden.' This is what is surely missing from modern kit instructions, encouragement to develop lung disease.
I could probably build this quite quickly, but I'll slot in in amongst the other bits and run it over a couple of posts... after I've had a fag...
Saturday 28 November 2020
The RM Plan of the Months were always inspirational, though often contentious in that they were sometimes high on inspiration, but low on actual do-ability. The AotC's issues have been extensively discussed here, but the N gauge 'Watching the trains go by' is often sited as a real turkey in actual operation terms. There were real gems in there: would the teenage me ever have been aware of the Spurn Head Railway if Roy had not snuck it into a PoM - I hardly think anyone else would have considered such a minor line as being appropriate for a mainstream magazine, even now. Though for me, AotC aside, this was the stand-out gem in the set. Roy's death is a sad, loss, though in consolation we do of course still have his work in our hands.
Thursday 26 November 2020
Wednesday 25 November 2020
There's been some tweaking... but not much. I'm very aware that I'm falling straight into Minories territory here, in fact I found myself browsing through an RMweb thread that dissects the CJF plan and 'improves' it. This means that I've essentially done the same. If you want to disappear down the same rabbit hole the thread is here .
The tweak from my original below is a two parter: the throat points have been shifted more to the left to give a little more space at the entry, therefore closing the loop slightly. This will still take three Mk1s... just. This is of course irrelevant as the standard FY roads won't. The second part is that point 1 is changed to a RH. This means the parcels road at the back is a tad shorter and more S-shaped on entry.
I'm at the point where I'm not sure this is a good idea. I'm not even sure if the name is right. What the world doesn't need now is another exhibition layout, though it is as usual rear op' so far more likely to go out to play than all the front op' boys post Covid. The reason is because I can and not having some sort of layout project on the go seems, well, weird. This will all go to plan until you-know-who demand an N gauge layout to be built in Setrack for Warley 21.
Monday 23 November 2020
I finished the 7mm brake off last week. Apart from a couple of niggles it practically falls together. but isn't a particularly quick build. However it doesn't say this on the box and this is supposed to be a pastime not a race. Finished in a scruffy, but not filthy paint job with the usual mix of acrylics form Humbrol.
Saturday 21 November 2020
Never open you big mouth. I sent the review in for the Simon Paley book (mentioned below). A short while later: 'As you're well read in this now, do you fancy building these up for review?'
I have said many times over the years that I don't do wires - nasty tangly things full of stuff I don't really understand. The subject is a triple modular kit of a 7mm 3 aspect with a feather arm - the bit pictured above, the post and the feather in separate kits. The bit with resistors I didn't get so I rang AWK for some knowledgeable advise. That bit partially achieved I returned the instructions only to find that the bit I'd done I didn't need to do...yet. The three sets of instructions are worryingly interlaced. I'd hesitate to say that this is bad practice, but it did take me a while to work out where to start. I'm sure it will all be fine.
Friday 20 November 2020
First the plague, then the flood. Just waiting for the locusts to rock up. Back in the back room sans floor and carpet and using the trestles that were built for the AotC - i.e. 13" wide and 3' off the deck. The boards are as shown a couple of days ago and will obviously get backscenes and facia. (Tut. nearly said lightweight again there instead of lighter-weight).
The track layout is as the plan though I'm still tweaking. Access to the parcels road (right) will need reversal into the FY which won't go down too well with Mr. Hill, but as I said, still tweaking. Track is standard code 75 - I've mostly moved over to this, but there is still some code 100 knocking about in the cupboard. The PG Tips box represents the parcels depot the other boxes, a low relief extension to this. I'll need some building flats with lines of dirty windows. The platforms will be canopied for much of their length and be accessed via underpass from somewhere. In essence this is the bastard child not only of Hopwood/Rhiw, but leans heavily on Messers Futers and Freezer though there will be what amounts two two separate fiddle yards (up and down) on one board using the existing fan of sidings that are currently used for Svanda and adding an extra pair (don't think three will fit) alongside.
Sunday 15 November 2020
The first board for the new Rhiw or Rhiw 2 or something else that rhymes. After the marginally heavyweight pre-cut boards, it's back to my own from 6mm MDF. The last lot had reduced cross framing, now I've gone the whole hog and done the side frames too. Debating whether to link the holes into long ovals. You wouldn't think this made a difference, but compared to the last efforts, the above is almost down to grams. It does feel slightly over the top, but then I remembered reading about touring cyclists drilling holes in plastic spoons to cut weight so...
Compared to Mk 1 it's positively frantic with track, but in reality it is a different beast and hopefully replicated all the good bits of Hopwood, while removing the bad bits and all in a little less space.
Wednesday 11 November 2020
Slightly delayed from its originally planned November slot to hit the (again planned) appearance at Warley, the O gauge layout Oake starts its trilogy this month. This should hit the shops tomorrow- if you could get to the shops that is.
Sunday 8 November 2020
Saturday 7 November 2020
Friday 6 November 2020
As normal I've inverted the instructions. These said get the underfame built and running first. This is good practice, but bolting a load of flimsy footsteps on an the beginning of the build is not. I've taken what I consider to be the more pragmatic route of leaving them till last. Likewise the afore mentioned handrails were supposed to go on post-body build. Nah... far easier to do this while the parts are flat and then build the box. Although this looks sort of done the roof is only dumped on for effect and there is a surprising amount still to do. It should feature in a blow-by-blow in RM in the coming months.
Wednesday 4 November 2020
The current crisis is generating much deep thought on lots of levels for everyone; what's important and what can wait. I suppose that railway modelling is no different and I, like a lot of people, am revaluating certain things.
I had begun a layout which was springing from the period of the GWR book (available to your right) and the AotC layout, which may still exist somewhere in Lincolnshire. The basic plotline was to look at the subject in a more 'finescaley' fashion. Me and finescale are not natural bedfellows, but some improvements could be me made by giving the idea more space and by making use of the Peco bullhead track. So far so good and the boards were built and the track went down. Then I got the request to build Hopwood and the layout was stacked neatly in a corner for a while. Then shortly after Hopwood had been shown at Warley, the O gauge project was mentioned... it remained in the corner. Now, some two-plus years later and with the room lightly flooded it ended up in the garage getting in the way.
I took it into the office and gave it a good looking at. I'd moved on. The world had moved on. Did I need another exhibition layout when there may be no exhibitions for a very long time? The answer was quite mixed: yes I do, but my head is thinking more compact and to be honest the bullhead wasn't singing to me.
The other factor was the idea that while I quite liked Hopwood as a concept, it was a little short, too wide and waaaay too heavy. Taking the basic premise and mixing that with the previous idea for Rhiw (tabs above) and looking at a Rhiw 2 which had been on the board for a while.
This is a very long winded way of saying that I stripped the boards down for materials that could be used for this. And while not a lock-down project (yawn) the materials for this are all in stock.
Sunday 1 November 2020
Not what I was expecting to do last Sunday. I got a phone call from my step-granddaughter - she needed some 'help' with a half term history project on WW1. The brief was to build a trench in a shoebox. Unfortunately she didn't mention the 'compulsory and optional' items so there was a lot of scrambling.
The prototype research was a few photos of mainly French trenches - I'm far from expert in these things so whether these were French trenches or just trenches in France I couldn't say. Anyway I just copied as best I could with a certain amount of 'help'. The scale is about 10mm-1' because it was easier and to her mother's amazement the whole thing just cost time and about 20p. Draw from that what you will.
Materials used are: Adidas shoebox, Amazon box card for the carcass, masking tape as the base groundwork poster paint and PVA to seal it. A bundle of coffee stirrers, corrugated paper from a biscuit wrapper, DAS sandbags, ground up chalk and soil from the garden dried in the microwave. Paint and a wisp of static grass.
Got to be worth an A*
Wednesday 21 October 2020
The first of the completed wagons for Oake. Fairly mundane, but that's what's nice about wagons. Peco - ex-Websters GW 4-plank built as per the instructions if not in quite the same order. Perched on Dury's Gap for speed. I reckon I need about eight in total plus the brake with a couple of Slaters 4-wheelers. If you say that quickly it doesn't sound too much, until that is you compare with the same in 4mm mostly bought from club stands at exhibitions for £2-4 a pop.
Monday 19 October 2020
This has just started appearing on the websites of the floggers of books. End of January, which is a lot later than was originally agreed. Still I suppose that it might one of the good things that we've been promised when we all enter the sunlit uplands after January 1st.
Saturday 17 October 2020
Remember when I used to post almost daily? Things change and the ebb and flow of life affects this more than most things. There is however a general shift in the modelling direction. Hopwood has now, like Elvis, left the building. This is good on one level in that I don't have to dance around it all the time. There is now though a small hole in the mental aspect of all this. The short term is that I'll probably concentrate on small projects for the time being - mostly rolling stock. I took a decision that if and when exhibitions re-start, taking Oake out would be logical as it's about to hit the Dec/Jan/Feb RMs. There is also Dury's Gap sitting to my right for which I could build stock forever for, and there are plenty of kits in the cupboard that would suit. Even though it is nominally set late 1950s, there is nothing which really indicates this and it could just as easily drop back twenty years if needed. So to summarise: stock for two different small layouts in two different scales... easy.
What complicates this very slightly, and as I hinted a week ago, there is a teatime vacuum, in that now that I sit looking at toy-trains all day to earn money, the desire to continue that in the evening is less desirable. This has slowed things somewhat and the approach is naturally changed - what I would do just for the hell of it, now in part has to have a reason. I worked though this conundrum 40-odd years ago, I just need to do that again.
Saturday 10 October 2020
Tuesday 6 October 2020
Sunday 4 October 2020
Yesterday I eventually sat down and finished the LMS mineral wagon. While away I'd just built it as per the instruction sheet, but on checking photos in the Bob Essery book I noticed the end door grabs. These aren't mentioned in the instructions, but there are pop marks on the part. A rake around in the box for some wire and a jolly hour fitting into blind holes sorted it. A pair of Smiths couplings finished, though it'll get tension locks for use on Dury's Gap. Modelmaster decals topped it off though I must remember to slim the stripes down next time. Finally out with the trusty airbrush for some colour.
As Stig points out below, Cambrian's bent for the more left field items is refreshing, even though most will assume that it's RTR, Airfix or Parkside.
It's been a busy week on way or another, but possibly more on that as things become clearer.
Tuesday 29 September 2020
The return has seen some 62 slopped over it as an undercoat.
Sunday 27 September 2020
Back from a few days in sunny Cornwall. Shopping is a rare and wonderful thing and since the demise of shows I'm buying very little. There are consumables to consider and I was down to my last three bottles of solvent and fifty one toilet rolls so something needed to be done. Under the cover of darkness and disguised as a sheep farmer I slipped over the border to Devon and Anything Narrow Gauge in Holsworthy. This is a misleading title as although there is a largish back-room operation of garden type steam, most of the shop is filled with 4mm stuff. The beauty was the old-world feel of it with rows of second hand boxes marked Airfix and Mainline etc. Try getting that in your mail order shops.
Friday 11 September 2020
And to return.
Due to the build of the layout being halted due to Peco closing, Warley bailing and me not exactly knowing what was going on, or if it actually had a reason to be built, I didn't get around to sorting the FY. Last weeks photoshoot with Craig didn't really matter as it was all about the pretty side of the layout and it didn't need to run. However... in order for it to move forward in any shape of form it should do. A simple two-road sector should do the trick. Here dummied up with some code 124 bullhead, it will actually consist of some copper clad sleepers and code 100 - to compensate for the sector plate thickness. Trials have proved that this should work, I just need to work the switching out. As you can see there is not a lot of room and I don't want expensive locos dangling over the edge of the board so it'll have to be simple and neat, possibly a centre off DPDT to energise one rail the other permanently live.
Thursday 10 September 2020
I picked this up yesterday while I was killing time waiting for an eye test. I have questions, so this is my unexpected review.
Looking at the mast head I note that Key Publishing use the Hornby brand under licence - is this a commercial brainwave or just cheating? I can't make my mind up. In any case the same mast head also states that the circulation is 26k per month which I think puts it a way behind, but in second place to RM.
There are a lot of ads, more than I expected, but a lot of unusual stuff that I've not seen elsewhere. This makes me think that either this is actively encouraged, or that the ad rates are low allowing some smaller cottage industries in. Notably there are no Peco/Ratio/Wills ads, so the flip of RM where they are predictably prolific.
Here's my main beef: I may have picked a bad example, but there is just one layout article (Gresley Beat, which is a bit like a music magazine featuring Sgt Pepper) and one shows-you-how, the rest is all about Hornby. More than that, probably 85% of the mag's written content is accredited to Mike Wild the editor; not only most of the features, but most of the reviews as well. From Key Pubs' position this looks dangerous, and from my position is deadly boring as there is only one voice and point of view.
The physical feel is OK, but not quality, but the general layout though quite in-your-face is well produced. If you just want reviews then it's worth a punt, If you want layouts, hints and tips and modelling encouragement, then one of the other three main mags are a much better bet. This then is my main question: taking all this into consideration, why is it number two and if you are drawn to a more glitzy page layout, then why not pick up the superior MR or BRM?
Sunday 6 September 2020
A month off. Sometimes there are other bits of life that need more attention.
The final thing to go on the O gauge were these shorty platform lamps inspired by items at Bodiam. Nothing startling here: some roughly 4mm square rocket stick and a pair of Model Scene 4mm lamps with the posts chopped off. Tiny brackets from strip and gas pipe from layout wire. The layout has now been taken down to Devon and been snapped by young Craig. The original plan - and indeed its reason to exist - was for it to appear on the Peco stand at Warley; it being sized to fit on the stand. Without this publishing peg point and due to the photoshoot being later than planned and becoming a little tight in the timetable, it now heads for the December RM. What I do need to do is sort the sector plate out. This could be left off until now as it didn't need to be photographed.
Sales Department: Orne has now gone to a new home. There have been a handful of enquires about Hopwood, but no hard takers. The price is very modest - I just want it out of the way really. email me via the profile page top right. The O gauge will similarly need to be moved on at some point in the near future.