Friday 31 January 2020

The O gauge

The O gauge
'I started with O gauge running on the bedroom floor.'
I really shouldn't be doing this now as there is more urgent 009 simmering on the hob, but you know how it is with new toys.
Firstly the MW is quite stunning - it doesn't run too well on the paper track, but you can't have everything. The brake is just huge.
The brief looks to be the same as before; idiot proof layout building. The problem with that, as I found before, was that you have to tuck a lot of 40 years of acquired knowledge and ideas behind your ear for later and attempt to look at it with fresh unbiased newbie eyeballs.
I've been here before with O in the 1980s and notably I didn't go back and sold the stock. This was probably a mistake - well it looks to be now, but then I couldn't possibly have envisaged this moment. I have to generate something with mass appeal, with the minimum of real modelling into a self contained 3m x 400mm. Not so much slippery slope as greasy pole. The setrack points save an inch but have already been rejected as the angle is too much and there are funny lead-in tracks which open the 6' up too much. Back to the standard stuff. If it's good enough for Ditchling Green...

Les: can I have the LBSCR coach back please?

Thursday 30 January 2020


Hopwood OO gauge diesel layout
Hopwood returned from Peco yesterday after it's epic debut at Warley. There is quite a bit of upgrading to do before it's second outing at East Grinstead in a few weeks and I haven't assessed any possible damage yet. More interesting/worrying is the fact that I had some boxes of RTR O gauge and some track print-outs thrust into my hand as I got into the car. This may be the summer accounted for already.

Monday 27 January 2020

Southampton model railway exhibition

Go west they said, but didn't mention the county long 50mph speed restriction for the 'smart' motorway (that's going well is it not?).
I took a shopping list, but got very little ticked off. 
Southampton is an annual pilgrimage either to see or to show. Always excellently run by Dave Barker and the Southampton club, though slightly shocked to see the previously sprightly Mrs B. in a wheelchair. Two halls, and several smaller rooms, mostly high quality stuff and most of it working. The Gauge O took most of the honours and if I'm honest a lot of the larger layouts, though excellently built, left me a bit meh. There is also a theory brewing that the box shifters are struggling to get new stock and there was, like several other recent shows, a reliance on s/h stuff.

What I did tick off the list were signs for Dury's Gap and Hopwood (which is still languishing in a tin shed at Pecorama and is overdue for retrieving). Most visitors to shows in the south at least will know the supplier with the back-combed hair and the stand made from stepladders and bungy straps. A custom job and despite protestations from some people that things don't turn up, I had them in my hand half an hour later with a spare set for Dury's Gap. 
Exhibition 9
Catering 9
Rucksacks a hopefully low 1

Saturday 25 January 2020

Saturday Ramble

I just had a phone call - no names, no pack drill.  I get a few calls, most of which I could do without… however. This was to do with dates, release dates, of RTR stuff. Quite honestly this is something I couldn't give a toss about, but apparently it is the most important thing in some people's lives - if they had one that is.

It goes like this: the manufacturers put out a shiny photo of a prototype and say 'we are going to make this'. Then follows a feeding frenzy of people who want one (or as I see it, want to collect four). Then the date frenzy kicks in and it becomes a guessing game. The problem with this is that there are numerous production stages that things have to go through: design, trial, re-design, 3D print, final build, shipping and so on. It's quite complicated. Which is why the manufacturers say 'expected' to try to cover all eventualities. Also different people get advised of these dates in different ways at different times by different people who all may have a differing opinion of where the finishing line may be. This means that until such time as the things appear in the shops, no one really knows.Why is this so hard to understand?

Instead people whine and moan about all this as though it's a life and death problem. Folks, it really doesn't matter - stop worrying about stupid stuff and go and make something instead.

Friday 24 January 2020

Disc signal final push

Festiniog railway disc signal
Not the fastest build ever. There is an amount of fiddle and manipulating long bits of brass wire while fitting very short bits of wire, and with the other hand holding a soldering iron. This tests my concentration after a while. I do however have a basic working item now. Just the tiding and the oh-so-tricky multi-bend handrails to do.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

The Festiniog disc signal

Well this is exciting. It's starting to solidify just a little, but I 'll be surprised if I get through this without a major disaster. The thing with very fine etches is that that's the plus side. The downside is also that they are very fine etches. Getting things to hang around a 0.3mm thick ladder is a little scary especially putting reverse bends in it without errr… putting bends in it.

The No 2 toolbox has been brought into play with use of the BIG BROACH and a reamer already. It's a very clever design, but how I'm going to trim the waste off of the filigree supports is anyone's guess. The clunk you may hear will be it hitting the bottom of the scrapbox.

Monday 20 January 2020

Soldering for the unconfident

Something unusual last week. I'd written an editorial in 009 News about skills echoing much of what I'd written here of late.

An email rolled in from an 009 Society member who is I discovered within walking distance of me. He mentioned the editorial and how his task this year was to learn to solder. He'd enrolled in what sounded like an expensive soldering/jewellery making course as he couldn't find anything locally that would teach him railway modelling type soldering skills (wire to rail, etched brass etc.). I bit my knuckle and suggested that I could probably teach him all he needed to start in an hour for the price of a cup of tea.

He wandered up the hill and it actually took an hour and a half. After which time he could solder wire to rail, two bits of brass together and a whitemetal fitting to brass with not too much effort. Three things are possible here: either I'm an excellent teacher, he's naturally talented and was worrying about nothing, or it's not as hard as everyone makes out. I suspect the later.

What it does prove is that most of these perceived skill shortages are easily solved. Why is more of this sort of thing not going on?

Sunday 19 January 2020

Festiniog Railway disc signal

Festiniog Railway disc signal
I think the word I'm looking for is scramble. Due to other factors the planned Welsh NG book is way behind and I'm typing as fast as I can to catch up. The trouble is that if it was just down to typing there wouldn't be much of a problem. The spanner in the works is that I have to actually build stuff. 

I note from the other items from the same publisher that there is a definite reliance on using photos from the camera of other people. One I have to hand contains a large number from Peco including one of mine and Nigel's layouts. Even if they're crap at least I do my own blow-by-blow shots. 

Anyway. Onward to the next item which is probably the last of the stand alone projects this rather dinky disc signal which was originally from the Chris Veich stable.

But first to clean the bench of coffee stains and paint.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Peco 009 loco kit.

Peco 009 loco kit
The first project of 2020 complete. Standard Peco product with a newly mounted Kato 103 for the drive. A couple of mod's: The extra cab sheet as fitted to the prototype and some extra control rods for the sandboxes and whistle. Unusually I've plumped for an ex-works finish with no weathering in the post 1920 black. Paint is Tamiya, X18 semi gloss black for the main body panels (which is new to me) and XF1 flat black for the tank tops, smokebox, chimney and cab roof.

On the face of it this is a dirt cheap 009 loco, roughly £35 + the Narrow Planet plates + the hours; far more fun to build than the mega bucks for the Fourdees RTR version. Reading between the lines these may not be available forever, but you can still get them from your local model shop. A couple of tidy ups to do on the painting and we're done. I've no real need for this once it's photographed so it may be up for grabs.

Monday 13 January 2020

Saturday Ramble

Desperately trying to get my head back into this as quickly as possible. Shutting everything down for some six weeks may seem like a good idea to some, but it doesn't help the backlog of things to be done when things resume.

There are about nine exhibitions this year and I'm sure I've missed one. That's the busiest yet I believe. I had attempted to have a maximum of six in a year, but that's not the way it's worked out. Plus several of these are further out than I would normally travel - nothing wrong with that, it's just different. There is more of a mix of layouts as well with Svanda taking a backseat again and not surprisingly Hopwood rises to the fore; more on this later. Orne is first out of the traps for the first time in over a year, the last being this very weekend in 2019. In fact it goes out twice, both to 009 group member's days: one in Norfolk and one in Oxford. Details on all this via the exhibitions tab at the top.

The major push is now to get the Welsh narrow gauge book done ASAP. This has slipped quite dramatically due to several project dead ends and the Peco projects taking precedent in deadline terms. I'm seriously behind and need to get the rest of the builds (including a small layout) done and all written up by the end of March for probable publication late summer which may mean two out this year.
Needless to say it's going to be busy.

Thursday 9 January 2020

Glyn Valley kit footplate modifications

peco glyn valley locomotive kato chassis
New floor/footplate in. Not without a considerable amount of carving and fettling, but so it is when you deviate from an intended design. I wonder if a) Peco will keep the kit in the range for long and b) considering that it is still fairly cheap at twenty quid, is it worth re-tooling the chassis fittings and including a similar chassis? Especially as the tie with Kato is already established. Possibly not as although the base cost would be low, the re-tooling/design costs wouldn't. One for Davis Malton to consider.

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Kato tram chassis

kato 103 tram chassis footplate

Well hello. New year, new ….. no, let's not go there. After climbing out of the dark and gloomy box after six weeks of being fed George Michael on repeat and all the same jokes I heard four years ago it's back to some sort of reality. Now the house is in some sort of order and my head (gradually realigning) is back into the workbench, it's onward and upward.

First is to get the GVT loco done. A new footplate is required - lots of fun as it goes into the inside of a whitemetal casting so when all the fettling is done there isn't a straight edge on it. This doesn't matter, it just has to be a snug fit. I'm working in the grey area here. The Kato 103 is discontinued, but the replacement coreless 109 is as yet not available. Modelling in the availability cracks. Plus I have deadlines. Whhoooosh….