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.