Sunday 31 October 2021

Eastbourne exhibition knock-down

 'Are you local?' Was the question from a club based not far from here. Another possible invite for the Norwegian wonder as it enters its second decade. Is it looking tired? Yes it is, and the question has been raised as to what to do about this. The original Woodlands Scenics fluff groundcover is fading and now looks old hat. The trees are looking decidedly Autumnal; not as in brown, but a bits have fallen off. Lots to think about.

The show was pretty much as expected: church hall, and a private enterprise, though I note that there wasn't the gnashing of teeth about 'profiteering' that follows a certain person that does this. There was no trade, just a reliance on second hand sales from the 2-3 club layouts that were attending. Masks were mandatory, though the usual 10% declined. Interestingly the event was not advertised in the excepted manner, avoided the model press and concentrated on local papers and radio. This gained a very 'family' audience and I gather this was completely intentional. Again this is the route taken by our much maligned DD. 

Is this the way forward? Probably. The usual 'club show in a school' is a no-no for the time being and it was notable that this was designed to fit the date slot that one of these had left with this club on the exhibitors roster. The day brought lunches, cake mid-afternoon and there was a welcome degree of pack-up insults and banter. We are ducking and diving and it's working.

Friday 29 October 2021

Mods and off my rocker

Way back on the Unnycoombe build, well over a decade ago, there was a little blue scooter of uncertain parentage. I fact there were two. The remaining twin was in the bottom of the box marked 'N gauge bits' and I thought seeing that Half Acre is nominally set in the early 1960s it would be a good idea to work it up in a similar fashion. My good ideas often turn out to be the opposite. Painting something this small was bad enough, then I thought to replicate the 'pennant on the aerial  again'. Bad move. Trying to stick a piece of thin paper to a length of hair with super glue is one of the most fun things I've done all week.

Still there we are, the 1960s icon. And no, I'm not adding a bank of wing mirrors.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Svanda at Eastbourne Exhibition

The weekend saw a sliver of activity in sunny Crawley as Svanda was awoken from it's 18 month + slumber and kicked into life, not to mention a light dusting. The reason for this was its only show this year this coming weekend. In fact the only show for the rest of eternity as there's nothing else in the book for it.  Mr. Hill and I are not a little surprised that it is still with us it being a decade old this year. As regular readers will note, things tend not to hang around here, such is the enthusiasm to get on with the next project. There were no real problems and the quality of the mainly Roco items repay the investment. Though I'm convinced that Mr. Hill has a running stream of new Di5s as there always seems to be more than there was last time.

The venue for the old girl's outing is as below. Residents of Wiltshire would regard it as 'small beer' and in this case they may well be right. From what I gather it is a minor affair with I believe no commercial trade. I got the phonecall during the midst of lockdown and was struck by the bravery of trying to organise something from scratch in those trying days. Needless to say things were played 'safe' and it is a fairly local roster of layouts, but  has the advantage of a reasonable town pub just 50 yards outside the door and a model shop at the other end of the road.
Do come and say hello, or mumble though a mask at least.


Saturday 23 October 2021

A small N gauge corner scene

 I bit on the N.

The aim was to get the back corners more of less done before working on the front edge. Some 2mm Slaters stone sheet for the hard stand areas  though I ran out and had to use 4mm brick for the infill. This isn't apparent form the usual angles. I need to let the whole thing go off and then wave the Hoover over it to pick up all the surplus static. 

I'm quite relaxed about thieving all this from Elm Park. Or at least the general composition. Does this still exist?

Sunday 17 October 2021

Uckfield exhibition

The annual pilgrimage to the Uckfield exhibition. It was packed! I got knobbled by the manager as soon as I'd walked in. They'd decided to run it more or less as normal as it would be tricky to change it. I agreed. The usual spacings and room layout, so as you can see from above the usual sharp elbows to get round. The only consideration was sanitiser on the way in.  Because of this mask wearing was high. Notably a couple of the regular traders had been replaced, but no holes in the room.

Uckfield leans toward  a finescale vibe, but was missing the usual 3mm and S attendees. That aside, some top notch stuff on show. There is a problem with this. Adrian prides himself (surely not?) on getting debut appearance layouts from quite long distances and possibly because of this, or maybe the finescale thing there, was way too much fingerpoken and push-along going on, even by the time I left at ten to three. This ain't a good advert for higher echelon modelling despite it all looking stunning. As I've said repeatedly over the years on here - this is a show guys, not a club night.

Food was taken at the cafe at the front of the building, which as always was excellent and cheap. All in all it was a brave and worthwhile move considering that shows are still being cancelled due to drop outs (but do they bother to try to get replacements?).

Show: 8.5 (sort the running )
Catering: 11
Rucksacks: 0
Masks: 8
Covid preparations: virtually nil 


Thursday 14 October 2021

Grassy banks

 I'm sort of happier now. There's green stuff.

Sooty and stained  brickwork and a blast of green. One of the reasons for the abandonment of the Mk1 N gauge plan was the lack, at the time, of static grass at Peco HQ; along with small radius points, Setrack and just about everything else that I needed. The abundance of Peco static grass on Squires stand at the weekend suggested that this is now not the case, and just in case it wasn't, I grabbed a bag of 2mm Winter Grass.

I'm working from the back, forward. This is good practice and this piece of dull retaining wall is about as exciting as it is going to get. I'm at the point where I have a layout kit with lots of built structures and just need to sort all the walling to tie it together.

Wednesday 13 October 2021


 'A tedious job, but well worth the effort' he said quoting a thousand layout articles.

Putting ground cover onto a layout is usually quite fun and signals the transition between the engineering bit and the artistic bit. This particular bit is a fiddle. All well and good when it's strapped to a few feet of timber, but bouncing around the bench while you try to stick soggy bits of paper down in a line wore thin after about 30 seconds. I'm not quite sure why I did it this way around... oh yes I do it was so I could take piccys more easily.

I think everyone should build an N gauge layout.

Sunday 10 October 2021

Saturday Ramble

Aldershot saw a couple of purchases. Aside from some static grass, a sheet of plasticard  and two tuna rolls, I bought a book. This is odd these days as being on the review team of RM I get plenty of new books to thumb through. This one had been advertised though hadn't come my way. The hand went into the pocket and out came the card.

It's standard Transport Treasury fare; a couple of shots per page with extended captions and all by Dr. Ian Allan.  Why is this unusual? Well back here I once again alluded to scale tarts, and book stands at exhibitions don't help. I've always had a casual interest in this area and while most books have one layout idea, this contains one on almost every page. The mix of smallish green diesels and grey wagons is such a draw and I do have enough bits in the cupboard to make a minor start should I choose to.

There have been conversations in the last couple of days tied to moving on with layout building. Unlike the many who fuelled the small radius point shortages during the lockdowns, I'm am fundamentally a builder of exhibition layouts and with no shows and no way of telling if there would be shows again, I did very little. Now that there is hope in the air, there are plans. And what do plans mean? Going round in circles working out what the best first move may be. The problems of the scale tart.

Before all of this is the Peco N gauge. This has been a cock-up from the word go. The first plan was dumped because of material shortages, then plan B back-burnered as the intended target point of Warley was cancelled. Now everything is back on stream and I could go with plan A, but plan B is already half built. So although it will work, I'm left with Frankenstein's monster, built with what I could get at the inception.  My direction here is to pile into it with (slightly forced) enthusiasm and get it done. 

Will someone please offer me a show for it so I at least have a build target...

Saturday 9 October 2021

And we're back! Aldershot show.

Although there have been a few weeks of exhibitions I haven't been able to get to them. Today it was nice to break the duck and go to the Farnham Club show in Aldershot. I think it normally clashes with Croydon so not a usual visit though we have attended with Svanda (notably not since).

It was a little weird being back in the bustle of a show which was busy (over four rooms) but not uncomfortably packed. Mask wearing was probably only 30-40% and almost absent with exhibitors. The standard was high with some big hitters in the room. There was little that I hadn't seem before and Peter Cullen's Mannin Middle was the deal breaker on travelling. What was absent was trade which was reduced to the smaller players with no box shifters; the biggest stand being Squires. This opened the rooms up considerably and left plenty of space to move around, but I assume will have hit the show's income substantially.

The year we exhibited there was a food issue but today no such problem with a fairly swift turnaround with a basic menu and card payment which I imagine will be the norm now.

The scores - not done this for a while:

Show 9

Trade 5

Catering 8

Covid preparations 10, Covid masks and distancing 4

In the brave new world, this is probably about the best you could do, and this may be the model in the future. Great to be back and enjoying the general chat, banter and piss taking that we all love.

Well done to Farnham for sorting it out and getting something moving.


Wednesday 6 October 2021

Wagon brakes

In answer to the query in the previous post, a quick primer on wagon brakes with diagrams nicked from 
Below is what most would consider the standard (Morton) British brake system. Three basic types: double acting with a cam on the shaft to cope with the fact that the levers are both at the RH end. Independent as per wagons with bottom doors. i.e. no connecting shaft as per the Airfix mineral wagon kit. Fitted, with the addition of a vac' cylinder. 

The above is the Dean/Churchward as fitted to the Coopercraft range of kits with a short lever on each side at the same end. These were considered non standard and were sometimes replaced with Morton types during upgrades post 1930s. As always a multitude of exceptions within all this.


Tuesday 5 October 2021

Coopercraft van

 Modelling is slower these days but a concerted effort has produced this unlikely beast for the Dury's Gap roster.

Originally part of the AoC stock it sustained a little damage and has been repurposed. First by scratching the lettering off with a fibre brush, then repainting. The brakes were replaced with Mortons from the bits box - unlikely that it would have lasted into the 1960s let alone with the original Dean/Churchward mechanism. Like a lot of the stock it remains on the branch for semi-internal traffic.