Tuesday 31 March 2020

First coat of paint

I'm sure Gordon Gravett goes through all this.
The final building assembly complete, with the lean-to roof feathered, filed and fitted. The whole lot was then jacked up by about 3mm using the sprue from the windows. Peco have really excelled themselves with this; there's about 60% more sprue than parts. Never mind, what most will chuck in the bin I'll use, and what I don't, Mr Hill will make something from.

A couple of coats of GW light stone on the body suddenly sets the place or at least the company. The window frames are part done. With internal window sills fitted It'll be easier to fit glazing before the roof goes on. I recon another two days work - I've got nothing else to do.

The jury is still out on the roof size.

Monday 30 March 2020

7mm station building

Compression is the key. What I learnt from being brought up on CJ Freezer was the proportion tricks, well not so much tricks, as making sure you don't over do it. Scale modelling is all well and good, but we don't have scale domestic space. This is a case in point.

I have 3 metres to play with - sounds a lot, but a simple two point crossover sucks up 3'. Two of those for a loop and two, so 6' of point work and so on. In order to make things look open and spacious platforms need to be thin and long, with only up to a third covered with buildings. Once you hit 50%, your platform suddenly looks short.  Small buildings work better.

I took the general dimensions from a drawing of an L & B building in the 7mm NGA's buildings book, and basically lopped a door off the length. Adding the lamp room actually makes it longer overall, but takes away the squatiness, without making the building large. Well that's the theory anyway.

Peco windows and door and Wills corrugated asbestos sheet as recommended by David Taylor among others. The roof is a card mock-up to see how little overhang I can get away with.

Sunday 29 March 2020

Wiring the Southern Region micro

One of the lock-down jobs has been to tidy the wiring on Dury's Gap here. I'm in a bit of a mess with layouts - the house is small and railways however compact, are bulky things and I've spent the last week trying to shift things around to make space for yet another one. I think I'd almost be happy for someone to buy absolutely everything except the toolbox so I could start with a blank page. Anyway...

One of the things that got noticed while moving DG was the loose wiring. To be honest the whole layout is scrapbox: regulars will know that the board is the old Morton Stanley carcass which as you can see was made from scraps of MDF from old layouts, s/h screws and timber from skips. Even on this second layout the wiring is tat: redundant layout wire, speaker cable and even odd bits of mains wire make the whole thing go.

I fired up my Woolies mini glue gun, twisted the cable sets together and blobbed most of them flat onto the underside of the board. The only things dangling now are the main feed in to the 12v and the link to the FY. The usual thing now is to use a bit of plug chocky strip to clip this to one of the corner blocks, tidy for moving, but with a layout-build looming and a limited amount of this in stock (who knows where I'll be able to get anymore soon) I just looped this around things. Not super tidy, but at least not all dangling now.

Saturday 28 March 2020

Saturday Ramble - lock down life

Day four of the UK lock-down - though some people are taking this with a pinch of salt. Mrs F. has now decamped her office to the kitchen which is err... lovely. I have now discovered that 'work' is chatting, sending book recommendations and discussing home schooling. At least 10% of the day must be spent asking how people are on the phone. Who'd have known?

Back at the sharp end, which is basically the office, it's 7mm city and a tidy of small jobs. I'm quite enjoying it all. There's no work as such where I have to leave the house anyway so I've retreated to default of modelling, going for a 'Boris walk' to get a paper and a little early garden tidying. In other words, exactly what I'd be doing during any other late March. Aside from not being able to cross over the county line to bother Mr Hill for a day, nothing is different. For a generally anti-social bastard like me, this is a gift. Maybe it is now time to go full belt into making stuff for other people.

There are questions about the lack of exhibitions. Will they re-start and how? Will the loss of this year's show drive some clubs to the wall? It might be questionable that you base your year's income on the flip of a coin at a two day exhibition. Weirdly in all this, only this week I've had two new invites for later in the year; not to mention the promises of re-booking for next year when the cancellation call has come. Whether these new booking will happen is fairly 50/50. The cancelled shows stop in September and these are both October. Whatever happens we will be resetting the whole idea of a club show and as I have mentioned several times on here pre-Covid, the UK exhibition system is possibly due for a slim down anyway.

Lastly. What can I do with seven wooden discs, 6mm thick and 50mm across?

Friday 27 March 2020

Thursday 26 March 2020

Baseboards for O gauge

Baseboards for O gauge
Well, it's deja vu all over again...
Or possibly the same meat and different gravy (that is, if you could get any meat). Three baseboards to knock together from White Rose. They fall together except fitting the top which requires a tiny bit of filing to reduce the tenons. Better that way around. This time two 900mm units and one 1200 dragging the total out to 3m - a little larger than Hopwood, but just a tad too big for the workshop. I think the best description would be 'robust'.


Wednesday 25 March 2020

O gauge track planning

O gauge track planning
Time to get serious. A rummage in the box from Devon and some track appears. Paper templates are all well and good, but it's only when you get the 3D stuff out onto the plan that you realise how big O gauge is and how tight it's all going to be. It's not as if it can't be done, and there's really nothing new here, but once again I'm playing with things for the first time (last time in the late 80s I built all my own stuff) and it takes a while to get your eye in.
Essentially it's the Ahearn Gammon End track plan which I've used more than once, so hardly ground-breaking. Nevertheless, with this little relative area to deal with even something simple can get squished very quickly.

What concerns me with this is the outside situation. In theory I have enough stuff to get about halfway though. I'd over egged the track a little - easier to give some back - but what if it doesn't work or I run short of things with everyone at home?

Tuesday 24 March 2020

All quiet now

It suddenly dawned on me how quiet it all was. I live in a sound-free hollow half way up the South Downs so there is rarely any traffic noise. What I do get is aircraft as I'm under the landing stack circle for Gatwick. In the morning and evening there are usually at least eight planes flying round in decreasing circles waiting for a slot and littering the sky with vapour trails. Now, nothing. The last time I can remember this happening was when the Icelandic volcano blew and grounded all flights.

I am now aware of the crows and wood pigeons jumping between the blossom laden cherry and apple trees in my neighbour's garden and the hollys in mine. On a clear day like today I can normally pick out the orange easyjet tailfins as they power down. Today it's a clear silence. I have to say it's a much better world for it.

Monday 23 March 2020

Repurposing old rolling stock

A little while ago my father-in-law passed away. He'd done a bit of railway modelling years ago, but had changed to R/C boats. In one of the drawers in his office we found his railway junk pile. Mostly pre 1980s items and quite a mixed bunch. A lot of this was probably worth a fortune to collectors, but who cares, so about 80% went in the bin or has been passed on to a couple of people. I kept a few selected pieces of interest. The Tri-ang quasi-American box cars were running on the dumb axle bogies. These were levered off and thrown. There has always been a possible US layout on the cards as I have the stock and these could be re-purposed as background scenic items if suitably doctored.

The Airfix Lowmac appears to be a very early example and is quite crude in places compared to other wagons in the range. However, with some paint and a load of sleepers it would drop onto Dury's Gap and be an awkward shunt.

This was the peach of the pack. Hard to date, but I believe the Peco Wonderful Wagons were produced from the 1960s until quite recently. The chassis is way ahead of the curve and would have put its contemporaries to shame.

The top half is a curate's egg. A mazak box with holes to 'melt' the chassis pegs into and then card overlays which extend the box upward - in this case to 7 planks. This means that the top three have begun to move inward. I recon this is worth a restoration. My only problem would be trying to get styrene and some Bachmann tension-lock couplings to stick to the slippery engineering plastic of the chassis.

Saturday 21 March 2020

Saturday Ramble

As it is with model railway clubs, many of my friends come under the 70+ self isolating banner and are now going stir-crazy after one day. Me? Loving it. I can still do stuff within reason, but it's quiet and all of a sudden some of the pressures are off, as in as of now I don't actually need to leave the house for the next eight months. I'm all but unemployed and there are no exhibitions left to go to.

What does this mean? I feel we are about to have a global reset and with my usual Tigger attitude I see this as a good thing. Miss Turnberg must be gleeful - 'you said you couldn't afford to cut the CO2 output'. We have now. As far as the general subject of this blog is concerned, life goes on pretty much as normal in that I'm making stuff and painting baseboards, being partially restricted doesn't bother me too much as long as the paint and glue doesn't run out. This week has been tidy some things and finish off a few bits and bobs. The black paint has come out and the latest 009 has been done as well as a colour change for Orne. Without any screaming deadlines I can add a few details to Hopwood and as of April 1st I can start the O gauge. There is another book floating on the horizon and the one just done to proof read when it turns up; so busy times.

Could this be a new dawn for modelling? I was talking the other day about the splits in the hobby. Which are in crude terms: the finescalers, the faster exhibition layout builders, the long term home layout builders and last but not least the people who buy red boxes and show them on youtube. The first group are shrinking fast, through age and the fact that the RTR has caught up. The second (which is where I'd put me) will have to rethink. The third group will grow. and the forth...? Well I'm sure matron will be along shortly with some milk.

If we are to be under this partial house arrest for a while then two things may happen: group two will morph into group three as there will be no point in building quick exhibition layouts. It will become build a home layout that could be shown - in other words we will return to the 1950s. The other thing will be that the Chinese production may fade and materials may go up in price or be hard to get hold of. So essentially we will go back to the 1940s. Less buying, more pure model-making and scratch building from wood card and scavenged material. This could be good. We shall see.

Friday 20 March 2020

Film Friday - Nant-y-glo

Nick Wright's very compact and action-filled Nant-y-glo. Standard gauge and narrow all on a 4'x2' board which if I remember fits into a sports car alongside the glamorous blonde girlfriend.

Thursday 19 March 2020

Painting baseboards

Painting baseboards
Before the O gauge build begins in earnest I'm trying to do a few jobs that have been put off. Here the painting of the latest 009 board plus the FY for Orne; a nifty bit of small brush work around the pre-stuck battle honours. The shift to an exterior paint has been detailed earlier, basically because there was some left over from Mrs F. painting the garage door frame. As far as exhibitions (remember them?) are concerned it's more knock and scuff proof than the emulsion that I used to use.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

A lineside shed for O gauge

A lineside shed for Tiley Road

Almost to get my eye back in again after the last couple of months in 009, I'd picked this Parkside kit out of the box as a good place to start. Straightforward and fool proof as well as being self contained... it's a plastic box, what could go wrong?

I suppose that if you were starting in O gauge this would be an excellent first project for just those very reasons. The only modification is the bog paper roof covering with the rip. Otherwise it's as per the instructions - not that it comes with any. I roughed the planking surface slightly with some wet and dry to add a little grain and the rest is the usual mix of grey/brown acrylics. I'll probably fit it up with a small pile of sleeper steps and some assorted debris when on the layout.

Monday 16 March 2020

The future of Hopwood

The future of Hopwood
It's quite obvious now that things will have to change - at least in the short term. There is a domino effect at play with at two exhibitions being cancelled in my earshot anyway; one as far away as June. Phil wrote about some possible changes and solutions on his blog about a week ago - some quite drastic. There are detractors of course - those that think that nothing should change and I applaud their sentiment. I tend toward a sceptical middle ground. I wouldn't trust this government to tell me the truth about anything, least of all something which may financially affect their wealthy donor class. On the flip of that I'm very keen to protect those I love from any harm and in that I include the many modeller friends, some of whom are not in the first flush of youth. Sensible hygiene is the key (why we need to be told this is beyond me).

Hopwood has two shows booked in May and June. No reports on these as yet, but I suspect that they may fall foul of any large gathering shutdown or at the very least be down in numbers. This second point maybe key; exhibitions have break-points and if the organisers suspect that the demographic may not attend then is it better to postpone. Therein lies a second issue as then we are into a possibility of there being no space in the calendar as all the shows try to re-book in October. What that does give me is time.

I wrote a short list of possible updates for Hopwood over the weekend, one of which is the lamp issue (see the lack of above) as the Southern style crescent post items from Ratio have simply disintegrated post-Warley. They're probably OK on a fixed layout, but are just too delicate to be bounced around on a portable one. This  also ties to the period issue which niggles me. This isn't really my layout - it's a foster child, designed by RM to be generic and that may be more of a downside than the slightly squishy FY. Still pondering this one. In the meantime here's some music...

Sunday 15 March 2020

East Grinstead exhibition

East Grinstead exhibition
To East Grinstead with Hopwood's first real outing. One day into the weekend and a few notable things: The layout behaved itself with two invites in fairly quick order - I still have issues with the blue for some reason. Apparently the numbers for Saturday were the same as last year which suggests that most people were being sensible, taking basic hygiene precautions and carrying on as normal which, considering the average age of the room, was encouraging. The random question of the day was the Heljan railbus. I've often drooled over these and as the layout was up, I asked to try-before-buy on two occasions from two different sellers; one s/h, one brand new. The s/h one was rejected as it ran fine one way and had an alarming deep clunk going the other which suggested a gearing issue. The second, and brand new one, rather worryingly did exactly the same straight from the box. This suggests a major design/quality problem and led me to this:

It seems that it's not just the steamers that Heljan suffer with. Try before you buy would appear to be the watchword.

Set up next to us was Luc's new O gauge, also on its debut. Probably the best item there and looked familiar in that aside from being 50% longer, is the same Gammon End type plan that is planned for the next project. If I could do this I'd be very happy.

Saturday 14 March 2020

Saturday Ramble - Oh

There's been a small amount of email response following my comment a couple of days back about 7mm being the future. This was aimed specifically at one or two writers based in Lincolnshire, but nevertheless it is a truth to behold. To some extent it is where we are all going.

There are several reasons for this; some personal, some commercial. The commercial reasons are that 1) the makers of toy trains have now well and truly breached the hundred quid barrier and unbelievably in 009 (!) have breached the £200 mark  - and for a model that largely fails. I had two more conversations about this particular item  on Saturday. Don't tell me about it; send it back!
My current RM states that a 4mm Bachmann Cl 37 with chug-chug noises will set me back £220.95. Sorry, but this is nuts. It's the same model as I paid £44 for (for Rhiw) a few years back with ten quid's worth of chip and speakers. That in itself is not my point, but flipping on a couple of pages I can buy an 08 for five quid less.... in 7mm scale; four times the mass/presence/weight; and that's not the cheapest RTR item available. Therein lies issue one. We now have rough parity in price in a similar physical space. The same applies to wagons, but less so with coaching stock.
2) The 4mm market is largely flooded There are a hundred possible steam locos to produce that have still not been done, but that ain't where the money is... look at the RRPs. The profit is in diesels. Where can your friendly manufacturer go? 7mm. CAD production makes the upscale easy and in the main the motors and gearing are much the same. The plastic and metal increase is negligible and for the short term (but who knows at the moment) we still have jolly cheap Chinese labour.

The personal reasons are predictable. It has been said that 009 is my natural default home, but this is no longer true. 1) Interests have changed slightly and 2) I'm now in my mid 50s and into varifocals. On Saturday I found myself pondering about new layouts as you do. I've stuck with some sort of 009 layout for years, almost because of social reasons - do these exist now? It used to be a cheap game and although I've got a mountain of suitable bits that would last me a few years I've pretty much exhausted the logical layout ideas. Orne is easy to carry and pack, but not much of an operating animal (it wasn't designed as such) and I drift into railcar operation fairly quickly.

Yes dear movers and shakers, 7mm may well be the future.

Friday 13 March 2020

Toilet or tools?

On the way back from Beccles last weekend we stopped of at Aldeburgh, for no real reason other than we hadn't been before. The show was low-key, but very well attended due to some very slick marketing, but being a lone operator I didn't get round to taking any photos.
There are a few on Steve Clulow's blog

Apart from being very 'white' and having a nimby vibe to it, Aldeburgh was very pleasant for a couple of hours. There's a few stand out tourist points like the look -outs and the fish stalls, however tucked behind one was this concrete shed - toilet or tools? Whatever it is, it looks remarkably like an SR lineside tool shed. Second hand purchase?

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Parkside grounded van body

Parkside grounded van body
With a large box of stuff in front of me and as yet no baseboards, I wanted to make some sort of start. Aside from stop blocks there's no complete kits except the van body. I had a little niggle about leaving the headstocks on thinking that this was just lazy kit production. A scoot around google images revealed that the prototype is about 50/50, with half of the pictures showing the headstocks left on. Thus saving me sawing them off. As this is a 'get you going in O gauge' project it was probably best to run with the basic kit anyway.
After bouncing out of 009 this seemed huge, but then this is a jump that I've made before on more than one occasion and in some ways despite being 'niche', I think 7mm is where the future lies.

Monday 9 March 2020

O gauge project

O gauge project
And so it begins...

The working title is the somewhat tongue -in -cheek Tiley Road, though I doubt that it will go down too well. I need an alternative. Sensible [Phil and Andy York take note] ideas in the comment box please.

Friday 6 March 2020

Film Friday - Seaham Harbour

For all you health and safety buffs. The nineteenth century railway in the 1960s.

Thursday 5 March 2020

The 009 layout

The 009 layout
And there it was gone. I've been working on this in the last couple of weeks. Mainly to illustrate a few bits for forthcoming tome on Welsh bits. There's a few interesting little projects on it - the Wills hut conversion is my favourite. Although I'd got the boards and track down before Christmas, it's only in the last two or three weeks that it's been finished off. There are a couple of bits of slate fencing to add, but otherwise my 'customer' will take the final detailing next month.

Wednesday 4 March 2020

Orne at Beccles

I'll be at Beccles this weekend with a rare appearance of Orne. Which, with the possible exception of a Bachmann Baldwin, may be the only 009 non RTR stocked layout. I won't, as suggested in RM, be attending the Lancing bash with Hopwood.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Temporary buildings

I'll bet that there are a goodly number of people that like me spent a large chunk of their school years freezing their nuts off in one of these. In my case there were three of them sitting on an annexed part of the tarmacked netball court against the perimeter wall, where they became part receptacles for any stray fag packets, beer cans and other detritus thrown by us or passers by. I seem to remember we burnt one down one summer term, Probably to win bets on how long the fire brigade would take to turn up.

Not quite a portacabin, but a close cousin and usually propped up on piles of bricks presumably to keep the rats out (or in) and relied heavily on ply and T&G for the construction. This example at a school in Tenterden looks as though it's been moved from somewhere to it's resting place here at the edge of a muddy car park. Some of it's brick legs have travelled with it and are dumped in front. What's holding it up is anyone's guess.

I can't seeing Wills producing one, but with the portacabins now out in card form, the temporary classroom can't be far behind.