Thursday 30 December 2021



I'm detailing up one of the original Dapol Brighton Works Terriers: extra pipework, painting, sandbox moving et al. Photos often show a degree of clutter on the tank tops with fire irons dumped behind the handrail. A small coal bucket would be a nice touch. Most of the plastic varieties are more the size of 9 gallon barrels, but I located this whitemetal item in the box which was much more suitable. All I had to do was to drill the centre out and fit a handle from 0.5mm wire. Much swearing later and I'd got something coal bucket shaped. Now to paint.

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Will LIma locos run on code 75 track?

A strange visitor at Dury's Gap. There was some discussion about whether the wheels fitted to Lima European stock would cope with Peco code 75 track. The quickest way to answer this was to run this 1980s vintage NSB EL-13 over the Gap's mix of Peco code 75 and bullhead. The result was a faint click in places but it didn't slow or slop and more importantly whizzed through all the pointwork without so much as a judder. It positively purred along... well as much a Lima stuff ever purred.

Saturday 18 December 2021

Saturday Ramble

 To my knowledge two shows for early 2022 have already been cancelled: The S&D trust and Erith. I would imagine that this is the thin end of the wedge and as I write others will be falling. It would be easy to opine why and if the reasons are fear based, stealth lockdown or what have you. This doesn't really matter - the uncertainty continues and I have been returning to this at odd times since early 2020. My opinion is no more or less valid than anyone else's and I'm fairly middle of the road in all this. With 'us' specifically there is a Plan B. Meeting like minded souls and going to shows on either side of the barrier is good for us all and some would say is overwhelmingly a male bonding experience. This isn't golf, we have options.

The small even at Eastbourne aside, I haven't exhibited since February 2020 an have attended some three shows in the last few months. 2020 would have been a bumper year. 2022, or at least the early part of it, could well be bad for public events and  anything before May or June is in danger. Is this really such a problem? What do we do?


If need be we buy, but we build and we plan and we carry on. There are kit stashes and glue and solder. We plan and plot and build (Though please, no more layouts with 'Lock' in the name I'm getting tired of editing it out.). Exhibitions are nice, but not necessary. We build.

To this end there is a direction here. There is a small layout mooted, one which will take a while to do despite nearly everything being in stock.  More importantly I have taken note of all the part completed and oddments that I've had knocking about for a while that need clearing. After all in most cases I've paid the money for the parts, so I should get the fun out of it. Nearly all of these are unrelated in scale, gauge or period. So what? I've been looking a few plastic kit type youtube channels of late and of course there isn't the need to stick to something the way that railway modellers do; you can build a 1:72 1939 Spitfire in one week and a 1:32 Bond Bug the next with no guilt whatsoever. Why shouldn't we be able to do that?

My advice then is this: If we lock down or something similar on Boxing Day, look at it as a way of clearing the cupboards and build. It's what we do.

Friday 17 December 2021

Parliamentary coach

While I was waiting for the glue to go off on something else this caught my attention.  Built c2001 in a shed not far from my current employer it was looking a little tatty with the roof sagging and lifting.  It was scratch built from a Paul Towers drawing using plastic sheet and strip on a Ratio chassis. Though this is really only the floor as the W-irons have been reduced to within an inch of their lives. It looks like a cattle van, which is of course exactly what the railway companies wanted it to be, only fit for carrying proles for a pittance at the behest of the government.

Has it got a home? No. I've always had an itch to do a mid-Victorian layout, though as you can see the rate of build is woefully slow; this is thus far the only item for it. Anyway... one window fixed properly and the roof refitted and shaped she's back in service.

Thursday 16 December 2021

A Christmas goose

 I spent an entertaining afternoon in Kent on Monday photographing an Sn3 layout for CM. This runs as well as it looks. Full bells and whistles DCC and cost more than my first flat.   Most of the layout is on the scratch side and has not been a quick build. We tend not to do this so much now... or do we? I have often bemoaned the lack of of long term layouts, but here are plenty out there. It's just that it's a different world when you are swathed in the exhibition circuit treadmill. The long builds are there fitted in between other activities and life.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Goods traffic on Dury's Gap

 Running a few thing around the Gap earlier. The Hattons P Class hadn't seen daylight for a while. I have some post pandemic ideas for the layout which might involve some dramatic butchery.  Experiments are underway and a couple of ideas are looking possible. The front runner involves some sky removal and an unseasonal mating with extra baseboards that I have in the loft and to hand. This may preclude further public outings, or maybe not. With the current climate I'm not over-blessed with invites so It's a good time to make some changes.  

Sunday 12 December 2021

Constructing a Wills small station building.

I had a rummage through the box of unmade kits and bits. I'm not a bad as some I know who can't refuse a bargain, but there is still enough to keep someone going through the next lockdown. (I have a wager on Boxing Day). One object that has been on the  list was a part-built Wills station building which had taken up residence. In order to make things a little easier I pinged off some of the parts that were not too firmly fixed, and fished out some likely parts from the scrap pile; that being some Wills weatherboard, 2mm Ratio corrugated offcuts and odd bits of guttering. A small 8' square lamp room was put together in fairly short order and the original structure given a rough coat of Humbrol 29.

The double door was halved, all the fittings were painted a pale green and the whole lot got a coat of finest Games Workshop Base Corax White.  With the roof and chimney painted it was done. One item ticked off and I can feel a project taking shape in my head.


Wednesday 8 December 2021

A BR brake in N gauge

 Perched on the rails of Dury's Gap the latest member of the N gauge team for Half Acre. Put together from the Peco kit. The existing bauxite version looks a bit clean now... once you start on this stuff...

Saturday 4 December 2021

Saturday ramble - model railway dreaming

 With the curtain fitted to Half Acre there are only a couple of things to add. A lamp for the further platform and a running in board. Though I'm putting this off. Should it be GWR cast letters or a WR brown enamel sign? Both are a fiddle. I managed to use up up most of the 'layout in a box' items though there are spare sides for the carriage shed should anyone need them. 

What next is the question.  I am typical in that there are three layouts: one built, one being built and plans for the next. Conversations with Mr.Hill have thrown up many of the usual suspects. These are in the main small two standard board essays in the 11' o/a length bracket.  These are biased to what we have combined in stock for motive power and are for a stater:

  • GWR terminus using the AoTC stock.
  • Late 70s/early 80s South Wales using the Rhiw stock. Through terminus. 
  • Kent/Sussex border terminus. There are a brace of older Terriers, M7s,H, P, C, Q1, 33 to hand between us, plus plenty of stock.
  • The left field would be something 1980s germanic. Exhibition wise this would  tick the managers 'different' box. Mind you there aren't the GWR BLTs around like there used to be.
This only scratches the surface of possibles and for a small outlay the same again could be be put together with different subject matter and scales. The 7mm NG for instance, Suffolk BLT or HO American.

To a certain extent all of these do the same thing in that they operate as a branch terminus. Nothing wrong with that, and means they fall into Plan A. What's Plan B? I have a hankering for something more a) operationally challenging b) something more representative of British railway reality and c) may need more than the usual one on/one off crewing. There is a Plan B.1; don't build it for an exhibition at all.

Plan C is don't build anymore layouts, just do some modelling... there is a difference.

Friday 3 December 2021

Peco N gauge done

 ... well more or less. With a few bits of velcro stuck on I could get the curtain up. There are a couple of tiny details to add not least the pros'arch which has been replaced by the Dury's Gap item here.

This has been problematic from start to finish. There was the 'never again with N gauge' aspect followed by the material shortages and then the lack of time. What I've ended up with is an outrageously heavy layout with very little operational capacity. Not what I set out to build at all and due almost entirely to outside sources. 

The positives are that I managed to tick the contractual boxes in that it uses the supplied baseboards and as many Peco/Ratio products as I could get in. Even a few weird ones that no one uses like the engine sheds. The end game is that is is on the sheet for Warley 22, assuming that that happens, and it will be photographed by young Craig in the new year for a three part RM article. Surprisingly this has been easy to fill whereas the product-lite O gauge was less so. After all that I'll probably donate it to a good cause.