Monday, 3 May 2021

Steam trams


Sunday, 18 April 2021

Shopping trips

 A noodle into the darkest recesses of Surrey yesterday with a trip to Kernow Models. Unlike some people I didn't come away with a Hornby operating timber depot - not sure what I'd do with one if I did. 

As with most shops now they are primarily box shifters so the required list of paint was unobtainable, but I did pick up a small top up of windows stock and some pins. This does seem slightly odd seeing as who I work for these days, but a, I was standing there and b, I try to support the retailers. My fellow shopper came away with considerably more in the shape of a new blue box choo-choo and signals. 

We need to do this now. Yes, I could have got my small haul in two minutes online and even allowing for the postage, a lot cheaper than the fuel to Guildford. That's not the point.  We have long been told to 'support your local model shop' and this is even more important right now. My spend here was a little over seven quid; not much in percentage terms for  the required daily take for a shop, but if we all go out and spend this in a local shop this week they will still be around this time next year. Don't complain if you don't and they aren't.

Monday, 5 April 2021


 Even with snow forecast for sometime today, excellent news on the rail front. Certainly the earliest in the year since it was put together, the garden railway ran over the weekend. A little trimming back was needed and some sweeping up (why do stones appear from nowhere?). A section of the underpinning had sunk slightly, so some remedial work was carried out to lift it 1/2". Part of this included building a crude passenger platform with some odds and ends. more on this later perhaps.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Exhibition returns?

 A small chink of light appeared this week. I got a short email asking about a layout for a show in sunny Eastbourne - not  town most linked to major exhibitions, though it used to have a very active club, an American NMRA chapter and no less than two model shops. 

I've been saying to anyone who would listen over the last year that shows would re-open with the very large and the light and fleet-of-foot. It seems that I was on the money. Anything that usually holds the event in schools, colleges or leisure centres is toast; for the time being anyway, there is too much tied up in cleaning and more to the point, internal lateral flow testing. You aren't going to spend cash and time testing your staff and students twice a week and then let 1,000 unwashed anoraks in to touch all the surfaces. Much easier to say no. The really big events that use exhibition centres will come on stream in the Autumn in some form. What will happen is the small events will run as soon as the basic restrictions are lifted. There are those that I know that describe this type as 'piddly', not worth the effort, and I've always disagreed. Village halls and church halls; it's where the exhibition side of the hobby has its root.

This in particular fits the brief; a church hall and partly sanctioned (or blessed?) by the church. No fees to pay to a hiring committee and no staff or students to use the rooms immediately afterwards. I foresee these small events springing up all over by the end of the summer - events to break the pressure that has built up. Events that can cancel at a minute's notice if the government shuts the country down or can change the regulations on how they're run in a similar time scale. On the phone I asked about plan B's. The reply was sensible: 'We can quickly change to whatever the government guidelines are at the time.' We should be out of masks indoors by then, but if not, that could be a way to move forward. Similarly, enforced entry numbers. Not perfect and not what what we all want, but half a loaf is better than no loaf and half a chink is better than no floodlights. This is good news.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Saturday ramble: Modeller? Or Not?

 A few days ago I found myself falling slightly into an RMweb style rant about the P class; just slightly. I try to avoid this, but it tips you into a thought pattern of why? 

A couple of years back I had a conversation over a layout about generational attitudes to modelling. When you look at this through the reverse telescope of RMweb it doesn't quite work, however, the gist is that he and I were of an age where we were more than happy taking a 1970s item and performing various cut and shut operations to get something else. I note that looking back through that bastion of perfectness MRJ, a lot of the earlier issues feature the same sort of operations. Now there seems to be an attitude of 'why can't someone produce a RTR...?' This isn't wrong, no one would find it odd if this were applied to kitchen appliances, but that surely is not what we are about. 

The dictionary definition of modeller is:   a person who makes models of people or things.

Taken to it's logical hair-shirt conclusion, that means making your own motors and filing your own wheel spokes (and describes many S gaugers). And yet many of these 'waiting for the RTR loco' types casually describe themselves as modellers; a person who make models of people or things. Err... no. 
So now I've come over all finescaly again. See how easy it is.

There's a flip side: I'm dripping in admiration for Chris Nevard's work and have yet to find someone who doesn't agree. However if you strip it down to bare bones, much of it is RTR stock, RTP buildings and other easily obtainable commercial items all subtly altered and refined. Modeller... or artist? Then you take the track on Brewhouse Quay and realise that there are only 1 in 500 modellers who could get close or who would even consider doing something like that. Modeller, artist or craftsman? The key here is taking the best of what is available and using it to your best advantage for the particular situation that is requiring of it, and I think he would agree; it's a time thing as much as anything. Why spend hours making something when you can buy something as good or better for a fraction of any hourly rate. Then we are into the thorny question of pastimes and professionals.

What's my point here? Well there isn't one really, only that the word modeller means different things to different people and it is remarkably easy to fall into the trap of getting tribal about others who have a different concept to you. Here's where my line is: buying RTR and running it around Peco setrack is not railway modelling, it's collecting. Change the number, add some weathering, build a few kits, make a few extra parts, is. That's where I would put it, but I'll bet if I wrote that on RMweb I'd get hate mail.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Adam Savage spaceship

 *rabbit hole warning*

I came upon this via the Phillip Reed video. Here's the rub: I didn't think that this was my thing; I'm not a sci-fi buff despite having been given tickets for a Star Wars premier. This though made me think of all the (endless) possibilities. In some ways this is the ultimate 'freelance is the easy option'.

It's engaging stuff and even if the root subject is not your thing there is some great modelmaking stuff in here.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021


 Sad and inspiring all in one go.

Monday, 22 March 2021

P class

In an effort to restore some of the missing mojo that I talked about on Saturday I thought a spot of stock upgrading for Dury's Gap was the way forward.
I'd painted a Wills P for the local model shop a few years back and had one on the purchase list, then the Hattons RTR item came out for the same money as the wheels, gears and motor. Quite honestly, it's pretty hard to beat, but was highly shiny and nothing like the finish of a late 50s P.  Once I started painting it I realised that there was even more detail than I'd first though with a layers of pipework all in place. The downside, as with all newer RTR, is that most of this is scale and will fall/knock off if you get within 500 yards. The lamp irons are a particular  problem and I may upgrade to a hole and a staple at some point. The lamp isn't so much a detail as a reinforcing tool.
I tried some photos with a tripod and lights, but for some reason this quick snap with just the room light captures the filth better.


Saturday, 20 March 2021

Saturday Ramble: New layouts

 I think I've found the answer. 

I had one of those Facebook photo reminders: 'this is what you were doing a year ago'. This focused the mind slightly as it was a picture of two packages of White Rose baseboards. Wind back a couple of days and I could have replicated the same scene by the front door. This either proves that I'm stunningly accurate with timing or exceedingly tedious and un-bending... take your pick. Self mockery aside what it proves is reason. I've been kicking a couple of 4mm scale ideas around for months with some progress, but little enthusiasm. This can probably be put down to the current social climate - what or who am I building it for? 

These annual packages of plywood are different. Over the last 10-15 years I've built a number of layouts on my own or with Mr. Hill. These have covered most of the popular subjects and a couple of the unpopular ones as well; but they all have one thing in common - they were built for exhibitions. Contrast that to the last two years and now: two layouts built in quite short order... because I had to. The target point in both cases was the November RM and Warley (more of that in a mo) but I didn't have to go through all the head scratching and angst about would this work and what did I want. Both these two layouts were utterly useless to me on a personal level: one has been sold, the other is waiting for a buyer. The point is, they got built. I wasn't trying to prove anything or do something new, they just needed to be efficient in execution.

The above photo is baseboard 1 of 2 for the new Peco in-house N gauge project; it's been started. A small brace of buildings have already been pre-built to act as spacing tools. I have to get this done for a copy deadline of August and possibly Warley should it happen. I'm not staking my life on the later as yet another local show pulled the 2021 date yesterday and of course I'm only seeing the ones to which I had outstanding commitments. The August line is however hard and fast. My answer from the top of the page then is that if I want to build a layout I have to get someone to tell me to do it and give me a finish date.

Friday, 19 March 2021

N gauge oil tanks

It's not exactly a struggle, just that my eyes go after a while. I used to read articles where hairy arsed old men said that they'd moved to 7mm scale because they couldn't see the bits anymore. I used to think this was odd as in the larger scale you still get small bits. Whizzing down from 7 to 2 I think I know what they mean. It's not that the bits are small, it's that the bit that they attach to are small as well.

I am now officially a hairy arsed old man.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Airfix railway workers


I was given these. They were sitting at the back of the bench looking at me, so in a moment of wild abandon on Sunday night I painted them.

There's something vaguely organic about painting Airfix figures (yes I know these are the Dapol re-hashes) something which reaches back to pre-teen years trying to get khaki paint to stick to unwashed 8th Army soldiers with too much flesh on show. Yes there are alternatives now. The Monty's and Modleu items are crisper, but to my eye are a little on the big side, not to mention a lot more expensive. The Airfix figures which are now 50+ years old do still stand up to scrutiny and for their day are beautifully cut. The only thing that jars is their ubiquity. This is outweighed by the adaptability: The pinch bar chap bottom right is a shoe -in for a signal man, the two with the lift bars are likewise easily put to sweeping or hoeing.

While the Modleu cab figures are tempting, I can't see rejecting these for general background duties anytime soon.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Saturday Ramble - to bin or not to bin?

I'm having another sort out and reorganisation of stuff. There's a box marked GWR EX and another without the suffix in the cupboard. These contain the stock and associated bits from the Art of Compromise build and things that I did for the GWR book. I worked my way though the boxes last night to ascertain the running qualities and all was well. I'm unlikely to build the AotC again; at least not in its standard form anyway. So what to do with it all?  Here are the options:

  1. Put it all in a bag, hold my nose and put it out for the bin man.
  2. Flog it (I'm never very good at this).
  3. Use it for something else.
Don't think that number one is not a consideration - I've done similar before much to the horror of some people. I really can't be doing with hanging on to £2k worth of modelling stuff for the sake of it like a few I know. If it's got no further use for the medium term, then I'll dump it. There are exceptions of course. I have a small stash of American stuff; enough for a small switching layout, which would be hard to replace especially at anything like the prices that I paid for it even allowing for inflation. But pannier tanks? There will always be pannier tanks. I even found myself drooling over the new Model Rail 16XX this week and making quiet enquires to its quality.

The third way is worth pondering. In total we are talking a possible half a dozen locos and about 20 wagons. Could this form a small sub-project. Most are lettered for a late 1930s period and most (but not all) could have survived in some form into the 1950s at least. Would it be worth a small undertaking of a repaint/renumber/redetail? In other words draw them into the transition period BR stock used for Dury's Gap?

 Or should I just put them out in a black bag?

Friday, 12 March 2021

April Railway Modeller

 RM is out now. I'm doing Wills sheet things but apart from that there's a nice plan of the month based around Skye with photos from Tom Dauben's now defunct Isle of Skye 009 layout. Callum's working up a couple of BR road vehicles.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Pub toilets


After the interest of the may-have-been-a-smithy, I offer this taken shortly afterwards. The rear of a small pub. Points to note are the mixed materials on the upper level, the cupola on the gents and the fact that we always skimp on the sheer amount of pipework on buildings. There must be getting on for thirty feet of it in the this tight view. I never know why people always photograph the fronts of buildings when the backs are always more inspiring. There's not more than 20' square of footprint here, but weeks of modelling.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Product of the week?

 Trip to get a new coffee pot from the metropolis of Burgess Hill at the crack of dawn this morning. No coffee pots, but did spot these: fence paint testers at a quid each; the sort of base colours we need for scenics . Not sure what they do yet, but it says that brushes wash out in water, so must be a some sort of acrylic. Worth a punt at that price.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Brick smithy

 I've been passing this building for my whole life and yet I've only really noticed it recently. There were seven racing stables in the vicinity, so it's a fair bet that it was a smithy. Hemmed in by Victorian bow windowed terraced houses on one side an a faceless 90s house on the other it looks out of place pre-dating both.

This is a quick phone shot from a week ago, but looking at again now it's a study in brick colour. We tend to hit this from the same point every time (and I'm notoriously crap at it) but this shot has 4-5 basic brick colours and then variations within those. It's a simple scene, but there are probably only a few modellers that could get the subtlety in the finish of this 40' of street front.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

O gauge layout for sale

 After much head scratching I've decided to move the O gauge layout Oake on to a new home. Principally because I can't really develop it with out lashing out a load of cash for stock and because it's simply taking up space. Contact me via the profile panel top right to get ahead of the ads in magazines. Price will be very reasonable, but reflect the materials and scale. Ideal for someone who couldn't resist purchasing the lovely RTR 0-4-0s and 0-6-0s like the above.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Saturday Ramble

I'm not a regular buyer of MRJ, I'll have a flick through in Smiths and only buy if there's something that catches my eye. This month I did due to Geoff Forster's O gauge piece and Stephen Hannington's article on SR electrics. I have come away in worried mode though.

Firstly the cover. I have been criticised for my cover choices; usually by the same person so I don't take any notice, but this is awful. I can see what they are trying to do, but on a cover? Most of the photo is heading toward black and it disappears next to all the other magazines on the shelf.
The inside gets worse. They've lost their office and appear to be working out of a lock up. This is unfortunate and could happen to anyone. They are are also 'not taking subscriptions over four months'. And, 'the publication date of MRJ 282 is not known'. This gives the same feeling as walking into a shop that has less stock than the last time you were there; you are waiting for the place to not be there at all next time. 
What happened to the great white hope of the 1980s? I've changed my view on MRJ in recent times - witness the chopping up of my collection a while back, but we do need it. It's a counterbalance to the young pretty ones. I don't know what the sales figures are, but it hangs around on the shelf for quite a while and  I'll wager that a good proportion of the run gets pulped: don't for a minute think that those nice people at Smiths send the unsold copies back. 
When it was first launched the other mags were terrified as it was aimed squarely at pushing things forward and very much not aimed at the average modeller. Now the roles are reversed and it's MRJ which looks tired and dated with an out -of-focus photo in each corner, and an over-abundance of text; still holding the etched kit  and a lathe as the pinnacle while the young pretty ones are at the cutting edge using new technologies and techniques. I know that the finescalers hang on to it and view it as some sort of religious text, but only sales will keep it viable and at the moment it's looking very much like the later days Scale Model Trains. This too had great constructional content by the likes of Vivien Thompson et al, but still folded. 
If if doesn't change it's spots I reckon two-five years tops, maybe just four months or maybe No 282 will never appear.


Friday, 26 February 2021

Today's briefing

 Despite them being the 'evil competition' - young Parker's words not mine. This does deserve a wider audience.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

N gauge water tower

It's bloody small. 
Especially after coming out of 7mm stuff not too long ago. The first one off the grid. I have a box of this stuff to build and before the baseboards turn up from Yorkshire, I may as well make a start. This is the Ratio large water tower. Large because they also make a smaller one which is probably used more by 009-ers than N gaugers. In a nutshell what we have here is two of the smaller tanks stuck together on a brick base. So far, so good.  
It's bloody small. 
Just a couple of inches long. I noted that the box photo has lost the walkway guardrail and ladder. Cheapskate I thought. Then I tried to put the stanchions together and broke all of them. Then the ladder snapped. What a sensible bloke, I thought, leaving all the tiny breakable stuff off.
This is not the end of the world as it's destined to sit at the back as part of an 'industrial' complex.
Did I mention that it's small...

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Ratio ARP box

ARP signal box

 In some lights I like this and in others I don't. 

Pluses: It's well designed and the fit is perfect throughout. 

Minuses: I'm struggling with brickwork at the moment. This is not good bearing in mind what's coming up on the layout building front. The window bars are prototypical, but despite that look like 1958 Airfix. These are not separate units so would need hacking out from the body sides to replace. This isn't beyond the skill of most people - just saying.

The roof is a loose fit in case I decide to detail it up at some point. 

What I may do is put it in the buildings box until it gets a proper home. Possibly on a wagon-fest design that I have in the back of my head.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Routemex signal

It's good to step out of your comfort zone once in a while and building this certainly did that. 
The Routemex signal was pushed my way from the RM office and appears in blow-by-blow build form in this months RM. I was slightly tentative about the electrics and made a couple of calls to make sure I was doing the right thing. The actual construction was very straight forward though and it makes up into a lovely piece of kit with is now taking up space on the window cill. If anybody wants one...


Saturday, 20 February 2021

N gauge in a box


N gauge in a box
A couple of boxes arrived from that nice Mr. Haynes. The N gauge was slightly dodged last year in favour of the O in the form of Oake. As I mentioned a couple of days back, it raised its head and most things will be back-burnered in favour of this for the next couple of months.

This is the plan B version. Plan A was something based around the Roy Link plan for Hampton Lode on the SVR - double track through station with storage loops at the back. For various technical reasons this wasn't possible so and urban through terminus is the new design. 

As with all these things I don't tend to try an reinvent the wheel; why bother? and I'll use something that is proven, albeit in a different scale and gauge. In this case the often drooled over EM gauge Elm Park, which has sadly disappeared, but is available in a few youtube clips. The working shape is for an N gauge homage in 1,200mm length. The target again is Warley, however... The difference this time is that technically speaking I have to do this within the 9-5 window rather than a open-ended spread of working hours. This being curtly pointed out by Mrs. F. as I opened the box outside of this window.

I did say 'never again' with N gauge. We'll see how I get on.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

ARP signal box

ARP signal box

 I'm in full signal box experimentation mode now. 

I had my eye on this when it was first announced, then that sort of went sideways. I'd requested one one for Hopwood, but it was only in test stage at that point. The production photos looked good, but when it appeared at Warley in 3D print form... different box! The original is a five bay animal - this was smaller and the windows... well. The prototype is at Crewe, though Town Green is mentioned on RMweb. Though with the root of the design being the Peco drawing office, my money is on Dunham No2 which featured in a drawing page in RM in the 1990s. This looks to be a Plan B situation, possibly on final retail cost terms.

All that said I picked one up. This is a proper Saturday afternoon Spitfire job. It falls together and this first main part took about half an hour - others would take less. The parts are oddly shaped in places, but it does all make sense when it goes together, though I did rearrange a couple of the instruction orders. I also attempted to alter the rear window to a more SR four-pane shape as it's not a million miles from the box at Gomshall which I covered on the blog a while back. This didn't go well, but it's round the back. My aim now is to try and make this look a lot better than ummm... other builds of this which look like they have bright blue ribbons around them. 

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Tri-ang signal box

 Regulars will know my penchant for old kits and other items of vintage. This is the latest. There had been some discussion on signal boxes for Rhiw 2 and the modern timber clad structures such as Radyr were mooted. 

While looking for photos for something else, this pinged up: Tri-ang but Hornby boxed and 40+ years old  - what Kent used to produce before variants. Footprint wise it closely matches Mr. Hill's initial sizing, but is to my eye a wee bit short. This is not a problem as it could be jacked up easily enough. I've never seen one of these detailed up, though the mouldings are crisp and better than a lot of the resin things that they push out now. 

The problem will be separating the two parts which are pretty tightly welded together. I'm thinking multiple light passes with a very sharp knife and a waggle. The brickwork would be treated as normal and closely matches the Slaters for size, but is plain bond. There looks to be a false floor on the red bit so an interior could be built up on this. The steps at the rear need a tubular handrail or similar. Even if it doesn't work I'll have succeeded in winding up all the collectors by chopping up a mint boxed vintage model.

This via James F. and Phil's blog from 2014:

Friday, 12 February 2021

Railway Modeller March

Out now. 

I'm building a 7mm Routemex colour light signal among other things.

Monday, 8 February 2021

N gauge mineral wagon

I'm a bit meh with N gauge. While the one and only layout was quite successful in exhibition terms and got sold rapidly; the shunting of a small terminus with tiny stock was... fraught with danger. So Mr. Hill and I quietly shut the stock boxes and moved on. It's now raised it's head again and those stock boxes have been reopened. Amongst the unfinished debris was this Peco Butterly 16 tonner. Do these actually exist in real life? I assume it was chosen to fit the standard WW 10' chassis. Anyhow... it looks to have had some Hill cut and shut work, only he can't remember either, so yesterday I mounted it on a Peco 9' chassis and threw some paint at it. The hardest part of this was getting the camera to focus on something this tiny. There'll be more of this to come.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Saturday Ramble

Following the news yesterday I'm in a pondering mood about modelling in general. My comments yesterday about Pete Bossom were very much my reaction to him as a human being, but of course I wouldn't have known him if he hadn't have been a prolific modeller. I you visited exhibitions south of London it wouldn't be long before you bumped into him, not only because the scale that he modelled in fitted into the exhibition manager's tick box of 'other', but because he was so damn good at it. There's a reason for this.

As far as I'm aware Pete didn't model in any other scale than 3mm, or TT as it would have been known when he started, shifting to the finescale 14.2 gauge for the later layouts. This is key and I've written about this numerous times before; the scale tarts like me and the narrow gauge freelancers bounce from one door to the next, always with a new scheme or scale/gauge combination. Some, like Pete stick doggedly to the ideal, the shifts are subtle, almost invisible. Building and exhibiting something as MRJ worthy as Hoath Hill and to still be exhibiting Thunder's Hill with it's roots firmly in 1960s TT is quite a trick to pull off.  Pete did appear in MRJ and unlike Phil Parker I never saw him in a tweed jacket. It was the dogged sticking to it that was the magic.

If I swivel 180 degrees from where I'm sitting now I can take in in two OO gauge layouts, one 7mm layout and the seeds of the next Railway Modeller project in N - this is not dogged stick to it; far from it. And if I open the door on the cupboard even more possible possible layout scales and gauges come tumbling out. Some of this I now have to do; somebody pays me, but I'm increasingly drawn to the dogged as things will change, or may have already changed.

I'm not generally negative, logical realism is where I sit on most things: what will be the likely outcomes be, whether it be pandemics or available parking spaces is my usual mind set. The latest (calendar wise) exhibition cancellation that I'm aware of is the REC Woking show in September. That's creeping quite close to the Warley finishing point. Forward planning is he issue in most cases and the elephant in the room is hotels. The bit that most punters probably don't consider. Exhibitions (especially the bigger ones) need lots of single hotel rooms. If these are either not open or are full of people isolating it doesn't mater how the rules on public gatherings have changed, the show cannot go on. With my logical realist head on, I can't see mid to large exhibitions coming back until at least 2022 and for some people that will mean never. It's not just one rule change, it's a raft of shifts that would have to take place. At this point being dogged is a good place to be. We have to close the door and become modellers again. This is not easy for a lot of people I know, but close the door we must for a while at least.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Rhiw Bridge

 The skew bridge for Rhiw 2 was delivered yesterday in a Covid-compliant fashion. Built by Mr. Hill largely out of left-overs from Hopwood and Oake and is inspired by the bridge(s) at Bolton from a Kevin Lane photo here . There are advertising boards made which are yet to be fitted. This is a big push for the project as it frames the RH end of the layout and gives a marker for the other retaining walls to be built to. The next issue is the signal box which will definitely not be the clich├ęd Ratio Saxby and Farmer.

I heard within the hour that Peter Bossom has left us. I have no details to how, but this is very saddening. Peter was a giant on the exhibition circuit, always enthusiastic and ready for some sharp witted banter and a great ambassador for railway modelling, especially 3mm scale where he was one of the pillars of the scale and the 3mm Society. A great friend. I liked him a lot. 

Thursday, 28 January 2021

The DPM backscene


A quick update on this. 

Wedged here against the back with Mr. Hill's signal box mock up - it's very top heavy - I'm about 90% of the way there, just  a little roof furniture and down pipes etc. to do. Yes it is a shortcut of sorts in that it would have taken me forever to chop out all the window apertures and I wouldn't even have attempted all the baby arched brickwork at the top. It's not been a joy though as I'm not used to manoeuvring 2' 6" of flimsy building around. Small sheds from Wills sheet, yes, half a layout, no. I'll be glad to get it squared up and firmly stuck down. To which...

Interdepartmental shift being what it is, the slate sheet box has ended up here, via me dumping it on Dury's Gap for photos. Note to self: build a proper photo plank.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Backscene buildings


Moving swift on through what I've realised is quite a lot of buildings. This seems to be my task in life now with not only this but 4mm and lots of 2mm structures on the horizon for RM. Here I'm fighting somewhat. The DPM HO railroad modular kit is out of Mr. Hill's back room stash of things and is in the region of 25+ years old. This may be a factor.

The plastic is almost cast, is hard and unforgiving and though not brittle, as yet is resistant to the usual liquid solvents. This means I had to resort to a bottom-of-the-drawer tube of poly cement which was actually Mrs. F.s fathers. Surprisingly it is still usable and has a glorious set of fumes which cuts the modelling sessions down somewhat. No wonder he's no longer with us if he was using this over  a long period. There is a slight diagonal wind on some of the sheets. Probably not a problem with DPM's expectations of a square building, not so with my series of 'flats'. Some substantial 100thou beam-work has sorted it.  Now the painting of thirty four windows while the sleet fall against the window.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Wills slate walling


One of my tasks this week is to review the new Wills slate walling sheets. It was suggested that the best way to do this was to build something. Errr... something not too big I thought. A quick hunt around and I came up with the former Brass Foundry at Boston Lodge. Now sandwiched between two 'delightful' 1970s extensions it has lost not only the chimney, but much of its charm. I've cut a middle ground between the modern building and that which features in period shots.

The walling by Peco's Dave Malton is rough slate waste at the large end of the size spectrum and despite me not being too sure when it turned up, actually works really well. Combined with the usual bodge it and scarper Wills windows and door bashes and some of the wavy Wills slate roofing, it hasn't come out too bad thus far. Timberwork and rainwater goods to do.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Saturday Ramble


Moving forward at a rapid snail's pace. I managed to get a dry spell yesterday lunchtime and it was out with the pre-warmed rattle cans. A waft over the backscene boards with a little white and the track was coated with the now standard camouflage brown from the side and grey from above. Now some platforms.

It's been noted in certain quarters that there are shortages of various bits and pieces. In some ways this is a good thing as it's forcing modellers to delve into the cupboards more and actually build things that were originally bought for this purpose, but because we are driven by the 'new', often languish. I'm guilty of this and there are at least two or three complete layouts that could be put together fairly quickly from stock. Not stuff I've used before, but a totally new subject. More on this later perhaps. There is also a wide consensus that  we should be using this stuff up. The above platforms are a case in point. I'd logically slightly over egged the setrack platform section for Hopwood as I wasn't sure how it would pan out. This left me a couple of packs over which were stored. It now seems churlish not to use them up, but of course this means topping the stock up to finish the job. Is this a skew way of doing this? I may now be in a situation where I can't get these top up items. The customer demand is sky high due to the sudden availability of modelling time, and on the flip of that the manufacturers are in a socially distanced production mode which slows availability. My hoped for mail order set from one of our nice retailers may not be as successful as I'd hoped for.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Railway Modeller February

 Out now. The last instalment of the O gauge.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Sticking wires

 With the layout tested it was time to tidy the wiring and fix it to the bottom of the board. I now do this with blobs of hot glue. It ain't pretty, but it works. My wiring is functional and is colour coded, though to some is pretty crude. This doesn't really matter. There are some who I think only use model railways as an excuse to add complex control systems. Me, I just add two wires to the rails and it all works. This is how DCC is often described to me and then the explanation drifts to high voltage bus-bars and stay alive systems. then they wonder why I'm happy to stick to two rail analogue with bits of second hand cable glue gunned to the board.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Wills slate walling

 One of the jobs for this week is to build something out of these that turned up on Friday from Devon. The new Wills slate walling. First impressions are good, my only reservation is that the slate pieces are at the large end of the spectrum so may mot be suitable for small buildings. However on the flip of that if you have large areas of retaining walls to do, then these are ideal where a smaller pattern wouldn't be. The large-ness may well make them ideal for some cross-scaling to S or 7mm and I could easily see small buildings being build from this in the larger scale.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Rhiw 2 runs


With the track and wiring done, time for a test, before the wiring gets glue-gunned to the baseboard and tidied. All went swimmingly until the straight-out-of-the-box Hornby Mk1s appeared. The last thing that you expect to find and track issues. However a slightly out joint was located despite everything else from Lima to Gibson wheelsets having no problems.

This is proving slow gong for some reason not least my inability to pin a particular date on it with a stock choice running from green to Sprinters. I managed to get away with it with Hopwood probably because it was a) a commission and built simply for the articles and b) I'd deliberately left a certain vagueness about it. This is different.

Friday, 1 January 2021

2021 ramble

 New Years Eve was weird. No work and even the cut-down home celebrations were muted. I haven't drunk anything all year anyway aside from a couple of pints of 'I'm-driving-shandy' in beer gardens in the summer. As the son-of-a- brewer, home drinking is strange at the best of times so I just haven't bothered. Does a drink-free year mean that I'm tea-total? 

I tend to look forward rather than back, so no real need to say anything about 2020 (except that it's easier to type than 2021). The plan here for the next period of jolly Jonny Foreigner-free modelling is the above, with track from Devon and MDF from Wales to the fore. The track is very slowly inching its way toward the stop blocks. I'd normally work a lot faster than this, but I keep being distracted by said track people in Devon asking me to sort words out. Discussions in the last few days have mooted a further sister layout using a similar, but wider, styling. There is also the idea in the back of my head for a whole family of similar pieces to use the bits that are in the cupboard - something Californian is a possible as is something Franco-Germanic, if we're still allowed to do that now that we are at the complete mercy of the Eton educated and Mike Ashley. There is also a distinct possibility of something in N gauge for the above. In all, 2021 will be busy. All I have to do is survive.