Monday 28 December 2020

Brush wire

 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

DPM backscene

 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.

Predictably, due to space considerations in what is a small house, the O gauge layout currently running in RM is up for grabs and will be advertised in due course. Before I do that I'll wave it here to see if there is any interest. Email me through the profile page to your right.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Modelling the Welsh narrow gauge

 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

No beef

 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

Baseboards and points


Progress is slow. Mainly because I keep getting dragged into other projects like colour light signals. However the first bit of track is down and the point control 'shelf' has been fitted.  Although 'mouseholes' have been used of late I much prefer this method as the switches are easier to get at with regard to wiring and it's somewhere to put the uncoupling paddle.

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

Westykits cattle 3

Part of the interest of building this kit was some of the research. My assumption that there was a link through to the current Parkside kit of the same beast may be tenuous. Stig emailed me the above snap of the newer animal. There are similarities, but only the bodyside sprue resembles the Westykits version. The roof, floor and chassis are new and the ends, while similar, have at the least been realigned on the sprue. The whole lot seems crisper as well. The chassis is the main winner with the far more logical clasp brake set up. Even in 1927 this was regarded as a better bet and most of the vehicles were converted. For the kit manufacturer this means it can breeze into nationalisation.

It all got a little modeller's licence at this point. The supposition was that the van had made it to the late 50s, but hadn't been converted to the clasps, but had been upgraded to single-sided Mortons. It's ended up on the line as a quasi-internal vehicle going no further than the junction. I take inspiration from the LBSC vehicles that were hanging around on the Newhaven West Quay line into the 60s, but surely didn't venture any further.
I 'notched' the back of the sides for the guard rails. The plastic was curvy so a bit of stretching and curved down rather than up was the aim. The bend due to some ambitious bullock doing pull-ups on the bars on the way to the abattoir. 

Putting the body on was a real juggle while I tried to pull the wind out of the chassis. Tried...                   I fixed a long piece of sprue on the diagonal across the floor fixing one end, then the other while flexing then weighting. This worked to a point.  Lastly most of the church roof was stuck to the floor alongside it.


Saturday 5 December 2020

Saturday Ramble

 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

The diving board adventures


Dury's Gap is set up to my right perched on a couple of small shelf brackets and a pile of books. For one reason and another I've been plugging in some power and running a few things around it. The problem is that there is nowhere for them to go. Bolting the usual fiddle yard on to it is out of the question as it would take up most of the bench, so a 'stick' was the answer. Made from offcuts from the corner of the garage it had to use the existing bolt holes. The construction is fairly obvious and all is glued and screwed. I was (may still) going to put a leg on the LH end, but it does seem to have enough rigidity to hold itself up. 

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Westykits cattle 2

 I tend to start with underframes. This means ignoring the instructions for a while. This isn't usually a problem as once you've put a few wagon kits together the process is fairly similar. 

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. 

Solebar units assembled and one fitted (left). The moment of truth is that in order to get the axles close to parallel some solebar (right) shuffling was required. This isn't the end of the world as a wipe with a file one end and a small plug the other will sort it. I thinned the brake shoes a touch and fitted the units. Hopefully I can pull the slight twist back with the body. The unit as it stands is happy to be propelled through the pointwork on Dury's Gap without falling off so fingers crossed.

Monday 30 November 2020

Westykits cattle wagon kit

 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

Saturday ramble


It can't have escaped many people's notice that Roy Link passed away this week. regulars will know that I have been a fan over the years and that one particular piece of his artwork has featured here possibly more than it has anywhere else before or since. I first encountered Roy when he was working at Pecorama though I didn't realise who he was then and didn't make the connection until a lot later. His illustration work for RM  covered perhaps a decade and included quite a bit more than Plan of the Month designs, including many technical drawings which were very recognisable not least because they often had 'LINK' in draughtsman's style in the corner; this style transferred neatly to the early NG&IR issues and added to the retro-feel.

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

Detailing a OO gauge Airfix lowmac

I think most people have a modelling happy place. If I had to pinpoint mine it would come down to two, or a combo of two: kit-building wagons and/or taking something and upgrading it. Preferably some thing low-cost and out of the club rummage box.

I'm not 100% sure where this Lowmac came from; I don't remember buying it, so it must be somebody's cast off. It was all fairly intact except one missing coupling and it ran perfectly. It's pretty much a one piece mould  and it has 'Airfix 1975' on the bottom making it not much younger than me and likely one of the first of the Airfix range. By todays' standards it's crude, but then I could drop it and not worry about it disintegrating and having to take out a loan for a replacement. In other words it fits the bill perfectly. What's more, our friendly scouse retailers were still selling them under the Hornby banner until recently here .

A quick bit of research turns up that it's a Lowmac EU (which proves that in 1955 when it was built we were more interested in being friends with people rather than enemies) and was unsurprisingly designed for ferry traffic and was full 'continental' spec. Through air pipe and vac-fitted, with the buffers with the holes.

The holes were easy -  a whizz with a .5mm drill. The brakes are odd. The moulding tries to do everything in one go and everything in line, but not in line with anything at all. Very much of its time. I sliced off the push-rod parts which should fit inboard, pondered the outer cross-rods and I'm still pondering the pipes. These may go on later. The rest is paint and a new (the last in stock) Airfix-mount coupling. A length of chain and a slice or two of coffee stirrer and she's a good'un.
Happy place.


Wednesday 25 November 2020

Rhiw something

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

O gauge brake van

 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

7mm scale signals

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

Track plans

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

Lightweight baseboards

 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

O gauge in Railway Modeller

 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

Replacing a Scandinavian model

For no particular reason Svanda was pulled out of its corner and set up. This was before it was twigged that this was its first glimpse of daylight for a year. The last being an outing to Wycrail. A quick wave of the track rubber and all worked perfectly. There are small questions - much as there are about any exhibition layout. Svanda is slightly different in that it has lasted; a quick bit of digging found that it was started in 2010. That's almost unheard of with layouts that I have had a hand in building, but then in a lot of ways it's my favourite to operate. Smooth-running Heljan, Roco, NJM locos and stock with finely tweaked couplings usually see to that. My only thought is that it looks a little tired. Is it time for a complete refurb', or time for a replacement?


Saturday 7 November 2020

Saturday Ramble

A month into life (not physically) at RM and what have I learnt? Well, it's mainly been un-learn in many respects. Probably different for me as I've never been in this situation before - that is, having a day job. This is very much a good thing being that the self-employed have been royally shafted by the government, while the banks and listed companies have been propped up to the tune of millions. I get quite ratty when people moan about the new current lockdown and how put out they all are. The arts and entertainment industries didn't come out of the first lock down and probably won't for the foreseeable future. Support? Not a chance. Ironically the first thing that people have turned to is TV. Who makes TV work? Self-employed arts freelancers.

The other notable thing this month is me dropping the editorship of 009 News (ending April). These two things aren't linked at all; I'd waved my intention to do this back in the spring and had been persuaded to continue. Things have changed now and the final straw was the subtle shift from it being the 'newsletter' of the society with a magazine element, to a push for it to become the mouthpiece of the commercial wing of the organisation. When it starts looking like Exchange and Mart, then it's time for me to go.

I've just reviewed this. I wouldn't normally mention it, but it is rather good. Not a romping read, but the information is solid and concisely presented. The title is a little misleading; it's not about lights, but about train control. I approached it with a little trepidation, but now I want a copy.  If you are a modeller of what used to be called 'modern image', and possibly a fair bit before, then you need this book on your reference shelf. Five stars.


Friday 6 November 2020

O gauge brake van

This has been a bit of a slow-burn build. Not as slow as Phil's GWR steam railmotor, but slow nevertheless. Yesterday I girded my loins and finished all the handrails which are individually folded and inserted into marked holes. Easy enough, though they still need tweaking, but the wire supplied is on a coil. My only improvement suggestion thus far would be to supply this in straight wire form - there's enough space in the box.

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

Layout destruction

 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

Digging a trench

 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

O gauge wagon

O gauge wagon

 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


chris ford welsh narrow gauge

 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

Saturday Ramble

 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

Saturday Ramble


With Hopwood almost out of the door it's time to move back to bigger things for a while. There are two O gauge wagons to deal with. Both of these are from the ex-Websters kits now in the Peco range. The first is the AA3 brake which at first glance is a more or less standard van, but is actually in the AA3 diagram group and therefore a tad shorter at 13' wb. This makes it highly suitable for a compact layout and better in this respect than the Parkside offering which is the much later - and longer - AA19. Compensation is plastic based which I'm always slightly wary of, but then it's not taking any great load and it purrs through the pointwork on Oake.

This is very much a period of transition for me at the moment in that I have been completely shut down by a combination of Boris and Covid. However new opportunities have presented themselves at least temporarily; literally via envelopes in car parks. How this will all pan out is anyone's guess at the moment.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Southern CCT


Southern CCT

Second kit off the bench. Parkside 1938 SR CCT. Pretty much as the instructions, with added brake bits.

Sunday 4 October 2020

The LMS mineral wagon finished

The LMS mineral finished

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

LMS 16 ton mineral wagon


I tend to take a small project away to build to distance my self while Mrs. F is watching Strictly No Pets, or some other dire waste of licence payer's money. Often this doesn't pan out and I bring it home unbuilt, but this time all went well and this quite old run of a Cambrian Models LMS-built 16 tonner appeared. The time being provided as with a lakeside chalet to bed down in, Mrs. F amused herself by poisoning the local ducks.

The return has seen some 62 slopped over it as an undercoat.

Sunday 27 September 2020

Hornby Sentinel and shopping

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. 

The principal purchase of solvent was made along with a pack of couplings - because I'll always need them - then the Hornby Sentinels were pointed out. The price given matched what I had in my head that Hattons were giving so it seemed rude not to, and of course I could even run it up and down on some filthy track to test its roadworthyness. It's screaming for a new identity, some nameplates and detailing.


Friday 11 September 2020

O gauge sector plate

O gauge sector plate

 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

Hornby magazine

 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

Saturday Ramble - O gauge lamps

O gauge lamps

 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.

Friday 7 August 2020

Hopwood For Sale

 Due to the situation this is now up for grabs. 

Contact me via the email link in the profile top right for further details.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

16mm article

After a very gentle nudge from Lord Leamington I scratched out a short piece on the Houstoun Gate 16mm loco that appeared here a few months ago. Quite rightly, I'm tucked at the back like Junior Modeller. The piece describes the thinking, but doesn't detail the build - well I didn't do all of it.
A quick bit of fun and honour-bound I give it a plug here. I don't know if this is a typical issue, but it's all rather good and doesn't seem to take itself too seriously which is fine with me, but then what do you expect with a tweed wearing editor.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Bohemian wit

[Non rail post coming up.]
Seven years ago I moved from a small house in the country to a small house in town (unless you have the thick end of £1m to spend in the South East small is what you get). There were various reasons for the move after 13 years of being surrounded by fields, a minor one was the ability to stroll into town unaided by motor vehicle and sit. Not to do anything just laze for a while over a coffee and possibly read. In my head I would be like a character in a Graham Greene novel - oozing bohemian wit and conversing with like minded souls. I tick several of the boxes required: I've always written a little, painted even less, I'm generally quite lazy and I've been a working musician for my entire adult life. All I'm lacking is a fedora and a neckerchief. As you would expect none of this has happened; other bits of life don't allow it and I've possibly not polished my credentials enough. Those that know me would say that there is a lot of polishing to do. Putting aside the current situation, even where I live, which is considered to be full of history-filled liberal arty types, suffers from the standard southern England reserve and no one talks. On the other hand perhaps adding northern friendliness and flat vowels would destroy the image even further. The closest I've got was in the early 1980's when I lived on Jersey.  A trip to St. Ouens bay could generate an endless day sitting in the surf café watching the long haired blondes turn up in VWs and wait for the big rollers to hit the beach. It feels like another life.

Yesterday having needed to post a packet for Mrs. F., I partially fulfilled the ambition: the sun shone I perched myself in the window of the trendy café at the foot of the hill and waited. Aside from the delivery of the coffee by a slightly camp waiter person I wasn't approached by any fellow bohemian types and I read my book in relative silence. The café tries to portray a slightly Latin American vibe, which you would think would greatly add to my wish, but spoils it by playing bits of Maroon 5 amongst the Afro-Cuban backing track. Maybe I just have to keep doing it, but the summer is fading and I think you need to have flies buzzing around to complete the picture. As there hadn't been any rain, the road was fairly dusty, but Nissan Micra's screeching past Boots and the charity shop don't really replace a slow-moving '57 Cadillac.
The second visit to the post office revealed a smaller queue.