In the box of life that formed the parts that were ripped off Rhiw Mk1 were the platform lamps. Not for me then the Bachmann or Wills products, which weren't yet available, but some fairly quick concoctions of my own. The problem was that over several years and the box being tossed about, there was a little bit of damage and one had vanished altogether. There was some repair work required and a new one to be made up. The brass rod used originally had also disappeared, but I found some slightly narrower steel that was close enough. Steel doesn't take solder particularly well, but some furious cleaning and a hot iron saw something that would pass sweated up.
Thursday 24 November 2022
Wednesday 23 November 2022
Tuesday 22 November 2022
Warning. Social commentary ahead.
The in-between-venue walk was also unplanned. The advertised shuttle bus had apparently broken down on the way out on Saturday and had been replaced by a swisher, but inadequate, 16 seat minibus…. We walked.
In hindsight this was good as the afore mentioned winter sun made for a pleasant stroll into Ashford centre past and through the site of the old loco works. Not only that but we had local guides to explain what we were looking at.
Local history is always tied up with the now, and the recent now for Ashford has not been that great (its nickname Trashford gives a clue). I do get slightly defensive when faced with Midlanders and Northerners who routinely describe the southeast as ‘affluent’. A day in places like Ashford, Margate and most of the Medway towns would temper that opinion and recent governmental language vis-à-vis levelling up is always suffixed with ‘in the north’ and completely glosses over the deprivation in some post-industrial areas south and east of the capital. Big chunks of Kent were about shipping and coal mining (always forgotten) and show as many social problems as Mansfield or Scunthorpe. Ashford was teased: HS1 was to regenerate the area, and new infrastructure, hotels and conference places were built to welcome a business tourism from Europe, with direct trains to Paris, Brussels and beyond. Now the same governments have left the town hanging with Eurostars rushing past from the wealth of North London non-stop to Lille. Ashford is Oliver Twist watching the Bumble’s feast. The short walk showed all that in clear sunshine.
The very long engine sheds rival anything in Swindon or Crew but are much reduced now and what is left is derelict. Possibly earmarked for TV production development they are totally collapsing and seem past anything but the bulldozer and unaffordable housing.
As we drove in earlier, the roof of this building caught my eye and was the washing house for the rags used at the works – something that would only be considered a single use item these days. Back then, worthy of a sturdy red brick structure which just screams ‘model me’. Only a few hundred yards away is the gatehouse/signing on building with its offices, belltower and clock and we were shown photos via a phone of workers streaming past it at the end of shift in more productive times. Again, a simple operation generated a highly ornate Italianate structure mirrored to the south behind housing by the company school.
As modellers we drool over such railway opulence for minor buildings and investment in industry and it plays very hard against the current thinking where Kent, and indeed the rest of the country, finds itself in 2022; basically, abandoned to fend for itself.
Monday 21 November 2022
On the sun front venue two was little better, but it did include the deal breaker. The layout that makes all 009 modellers go weak at the knees, Dick Wyatt's Dovey Valley. Still looking good despite entering its sixth decade of exhibitions though this may have been its last showing, though he has said this before. Still the ultimate narrow gauge layout.
Monday 14 November 2022
The cafe front of house was now turned into the exhibitor's lounge; teas and light stuff was served in the studio. OK, but not enough for lunch and despite rumours to the contrary, the cafe two doors down was open. I can't understand why people don't make the effort to walk 50 yards for this as we had it almost exclusively. For £7.50 you can get the full heart attack on a plate (see below, note this is the baseline serving).
Catering in 4 , out 10.
Parking (on street) 5
Saturday 12 November 2022
One of the upsides of returning to a stateless form is that I now have a little more time to spend with my late octogenarian parents. Both are fading, but furiously independent: my mother dashing about everywhere and my father complaining that he didn't get picked for the England T20 squad. The extra time meant I went over and broke up an old garden table, put up two bird boxes and repaired a dining room chair. During the post-jobs tea and biscuits my mother stated, 'there's really too much stuff in this house'. I agreed but didn't comment further. About 15 years ago they had flown in the face of logic and instead of heading toward a 2-bed bungalow by the sea they upsized to a rambling four-bedroom house in the sticks. My protestations of that time have now become reality and they have filled the house with a decade's worth of impulse buys. My mother bristled when I said that there would be a skip required at some point. This just reinforced my thinking.
What's all this got to do with modelling? Well, if you replace my mother's gardening tools with modelling bits you soon have many of my modelling friends' houses. I am determined not to do that, determined to shuffle off with a cupboard empty of projects that are un-done. Capital stock such as locos in boxes is one thing, but we all have tobacco tins and margarine tubs full of bits that might come in useful. This is what I'm working towards and there are one or two projects formulating in my head that will take advantage of this. The sorted out seated figures above, some of which have been in stock for possibly decades, are destined to be painted up and assigned to coaching stock - something that I rarely do. The key, I believe, is consolidation of ideas and sensible planning. We are all heading in one direction, and it makes sense to leave as little as possible in the way of all the supplementary bits and bobs that are so hard to deal with by those with the sweeping up broom.
Friday 11 November 2022
Rhiw Mk1 caused quite a bit of discussion when it was exhibited, not least the general design which reflected what would likely have existed on a rationalised line in the mid 1980s as opposed to putting in extra sidings and what-have-you to give 'extra operation'.
Another bit of seemingly never-ending questioning was the use (or not) of a brake van. Several knowledgeable people were asked, including ex-drivers from the South Wales area and even they couldn't give a definitive answer. The rescue was obtained by none other than Mr. Flint who got dragged into the argument when the layout was being photographed at Pecorama. He disappeared into the library and returned with a photocopy of a page from a book which outlined the reversing move that takes place on Rhiw. In a nutshell; the move would require a second man to act as lookout at what would be the leading end of the train and would flag or walkie-talkie the driver during the reverse, even with air-braked stock.
We needed a brake van.
It took a while to find one, and although there were plenty of bauxite livered 20t vans still around during the period, I wanted a newer liveried version to pin the date. Eventually this Bachmann one was found for the princely sum of £7.75 and was snapped up. Lamps had already been fitted (at the LH end so as to be visible on exiting the layout) but it wasn't until now that the guard/second man was added using the Airfix lookout figure holding a pair of flags, painted up in jeans and donkey jacket (the orange plastic patch is there, but not visible) and stuck with a dab of UHU.
Go on, you know you want to... https://www.buymeacoffee.com/chrisford2Q
Thursday 10 November 2022
This is rapidly turning into a Futers tribute layout.
A lick of paint and a couple of dabs of Poundland UHU and Mr. Hill's Wills sheet-built furniture factory takes its place at the back of Rhiw 2. Why furniture? Dunno. The pipework is warmed and bent sprue, the downpipes 1mm rod and the bargeboards from 20 thou sheet. The rest is from the afore mentioned Wills bits. What's not obvious here is the subtle stepping of the gables, falling from about 12mm this end down to a flat at the far end. Now it's up it does remined me of various Ian Futers' layouts in both 4mm and O with the gable end corrugated factory units. it will be bordered with some board fencing of which I need another pack to finish and then some suitable detritus such as drums and pallets. The sharp eyed will notice the Wizard Models speed sign which has appeared naturally by magic next to the bridge pier.
Wednesday 9 November 2022
Tuesday 8 November 2022
The last piece of walling for Rhiw 2 takes shape. This has now been painted and installed. The whole thing felt a bit pointless as unless you have a funny shaped neck or you are standing in the rearward operating position, it isn't really visible. Perhaps that's not the point; it needs to be there to finish the structure and although I tend to sit on the fence in these, matters, I don't want to stand behind the layout looking at a load of half-cocked scenery. The structure root is the same as the stuff at the rear of the layout and uses the larger scraps of Wills course stone that I had left over from the O gauge project and a little filler, with a capping from strips of 40 thou: 4mm wide and lightly scribed using the Wills wall capping as a spacing guide. I seem to go through acres of the stone sheet, and it must be the most versatile product in the range,
The rear of the structure/spacing pieces are packing card; the stuff that I used to get wrapping the Ed's copies of 009 News which is very good quality and may well be the grade that the printer uses for hardback cover bases. The return wall at the right is largely superfluous, but at this stage I wasn't sure how much of it would be visible. Again, it's scrap material so zero cost.
The use of card of late for these walling areas has got me thinking about a fully-cardboard finished layout, of the sort that graced the 70s magazines that I grew up with. The thinking is in place and more on the possible execution of the idea later.
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Sunday 6 November 2022
Last Monday was a tidy up day for me at Peco Towers and I was on book review duty. I pondered out loud as to where all these books end up; and believe me they do mount up remarkably quickly. 'Come with me' said young Craig and led me down gas-lit corridors and damp stairwells, beating through the cobwebs, to a dark place that is uninhabited by humans, deep in the bowels of the East Devon geology.
There, all correctly filed, were 40+ years of review books in countless alleyways of shelves creaking with the weight of information and paper. If an article on a line or locomotive is planned, the required info will be here, not to mention the cross-referencing ability required for positive dating. It's simply the best bookshop you could ever walk into... except you can't.
Thursday 3 November 2022
The dinky French wayside station building all done... after six months. Not that it took that long, just that I kept leapfrogging with other projects. In an effort to tie up the loose ends, it was one of a pair of things that needed sorting ASAP. The main reason for it was to try the Wills Lozenge tiles of which only one sheet was used. Just for jolly I compared these to some pure HO scale roof parts form a Joueff kit. To my surprise they are all but identical and so look to be correct for HO and don't suffer from the slightly overscale problems of some of the earlier original Wills sheet range. Worth noting if you are working in Euro-HO as opposed to 4mm. Though to be honest they will work adequately for the larger scale without too much bother.
The reason for the ASAP tie ups? Your trusty scribe is now as of this Monday off the payroll at Peco and back to the rollercoaster of freelancing. Though it has been said repeatedly, Peco is a little like Hotel California.
Thursday 27 October 2022
One of the features of Rhiw Mk 1 was the lifted down line. This was often remarked upon, and the usual comment was that it wasn't done very frequently and if it was, it was just plain ballast. It was decided to do this again and go the whole hog and do the entire length of the layout. The effect, and it is extremely subtle, is to create the bumps left when sleepers are removed and the undulations of the ballast around them remains. Modelling is simple, though not the most exciting thing to do and is just 32mm lengths of thin card laid where the track would have been at roughly 3.5mm intervals. The whole lot is then covered with a ballast mix creating an almost imperceptible ridged effect.
Wednesday 26 October 2022
Tuesday 25 October 2022
Monday 24 October 2022
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Friday 21 October 2022
Done bar the painting. Slightly out of my usual geographical sphere, but why not? The Wills lozenge tile sheets, for which this is a demo of/for, appear to be thinner than the previous products, though checking these against a slate sheet proves otherwise. This suggests that the thickness is being reduced across the range, thus throwing out the usual complaint against them. Everything except the roof is fundamentally left-overs and scrap bits, so zero cost. I don't actually have a use for this, but it is a pretty generic western Europe style, so it'll get used somewhere.
Thursday 20 October 2022
The reasoning behind this was to try the new Wills lozenge tiles. The size needed to be small, as to not to over do it, with a simple pitched roof. This was started a while back then other stuff popped up and it got put on the back burner.
The walls are Wills render and the window is a cut down unit from the Peco N gauge engine shed leftovers. The quoins are cut and wrapped 10 thou plastic. The dimensions are taken from the unhelpful 3/4 views and some HO scale scrap drawings of the door and window. The door is a puzzle and seems to be remarkably tall for HO, however I have persevered. The finished carcass looks to be a little short in length, but as I said...inspired.
Tuesday 18 October 2022
Despite the danger of repeating the report from last year's bash, t'was a good show. In essence it is designed and planned to be a mini finescale show; not in that there is a lot of P4 or S7, but more of the sheer quality. With maybe one exception, you could pick any one of the exhibits and at any other event it would be your pick of the day. Here, you were spoilt. Good friends of David Bickerton's, the Gravetts were in attendance and were probably getting on a little better than the photo appears to show, with the new mini Pempoul. Tim Ticknell was reluctant with something 'built for specialist NG shows'. OK, but perfect anyway.
Uckfield is undoubtedly the best show in the area, though don't tell Adrian that. The finescale element meant that the rucksack count was high and irritating; a packed show and bulky bags don't mix. Parking is a doddle. Put it in your diary for next year.
More pics on Mr. Campbell's blog to your right.
Rucksacks (generally following the finescale/sandwiches link) 7
Wednesday 12 October 2022
Well, there's a funny thing. As I sit on the chair that I do I've been slightly ahead of the curve of both the Peco and Hornby announcements. This has given me a chance to ponder it for a while. My first reaction on the Peco entry a while back was 'OK, where's the loco?' Wagons buildings and track are one thing, but without some power, a trainset you do not have. There is the Gaugemaster Euro-Class 66 lurking in the shadows of the website. Is this available? If so, no one is talking about it. Then we have the disconnect between the two announcements and you quickly get into conspiracy theories. Finally, there is the latest announcement from Heljan saying that they are pulling out of the idea as Hornby have stolen their thunder and duplicated. Well, we've been here before with Terriers et al, as we have had the website-only purchase game.
Industry shenanigans aside, is it viable idea? If you look at the longer term picture then it probably is. N gauge is often seen as a bit too small and this is a wee bit up at 1:120 (2.54mm-1') as opposed to 1:148 (2 1/16th mm -1'). That doesn't seem like much in linear terms, but is quite a visual jump. Then there is the 3mm angle with its root in Tri-ang TT and a healthy half a century old support society. The folk there that I know are robustly pissed off and feel completely slighted. I tend to agree, but there are two bits of thinking which will have affected the decision not to go 3mm/ 1:100.
Firstly there is the, unseen by most British eyes, large Germanic/Euro market (what, we are still talking to Europeans?! Green pens at the ready). Here, the tradition is 1:120 on 12mm track and it can't be beyond most people to see that there is a commercial eye on this. Linked to this vis-a-vis 3mm is the question of the triple possibilities of gauge: The die-hards using 12mm, the two people using 13.5mm and the newer and growing rapidly finescale breed on 14.2mm. If the companies pick one it'll piss all the others off. Better to be even-handed and piss them all off. The upshot is that the 12mm boys have just been handed a range of super-detailed off-the-shelf track. And don't tell me that they're not going to buy it.
My conclusion is that it'll all settle down and in five years it will have taken off or sunk without trace. It's going to be black and white and probably dependant on whether Hornby decide that it is worth carrying on with. If not, we'll have Tri-ang TT Mk2. If the range can grow and form into some sort of logical lump which at the moment it doesn't, looking like a completely random selection of non-compatable items, then it'll work. We shall see.
Tuesday 11 October 2022
Well quite a bit really.
Unlike many others on the net in the last few days I'm not going to regale you with all the deep conversations I had with Iain, and there's good reason for that... there weren't any. Sure I espied him from time to time at some of the finescale type shows, but that was it. The influence (and it is a huge influence) was via the writing...plus one.
This one was at the much missed Heathfield shows. Not being brought up with the Constructor I didn't know who he was, but he was billed to give a talk with Bob Barlow (also not known) on light railways. I'm not usually drawn to talks. However this one I sat through and was completely inspired and fascinated. I was one above track mat level at that point, and in 40 minutes it changed everything. Seriously everything. I bought books, found these magical light railways, discovered narrow gauge and started modelling in 009.
I bought the 1990s layout design book, swallowed it virtually wholesale, and was still using the Ullysses design of board support up to Wood End in the early 2000s. Then there were the wagon books: both RTR and kit built. Sensible pragmatic advice on how to improve things. Then MORRIL which was a bit hit and miss, but with Rice-ian writing that engaged and drew you in.
Would I have ever been the modeller that I am? Without Iain Rice? Completely and categorically no.
Monday 10 October 2022
Friday 7 October 2022
|Ph: Craig Tiley|
Its future was discussed yesterday at a local level, the upshot of which is that if Peco don't want it, it will be probably be up for grabs at some point. In other words I don't want to keep it.
Tuesday 4 October 2022
All done with the expected light corrosion thrown in. There are all sorts of issues with this once you start digging (aren't there always?) in that all the examples that I pointed you towards on Paul Bartlett's site differ very slightly from this. Did you notice? No? That's good then. A quick look at the supporting text in the Peco catalogue which I keep on my person at all times day and night, appears to fudge the issue a little and even the original Parkside instructions don't actually state that it's a diagram 1/099. Though with the 10'wb there isn't much else that it could be as all the other 'standard' dia 1/108s (as per the Airfix) are 9'. Answers to the usual address on a five-pound note please.
Speaking of the people in darkest Devon, I have now completed two years of remotely pushing commas around in RM articles, and my time will draw to a close at the end of the month. It's been fun, occasionally hair-pulling, but now a return to my old pretending-to-work freelance life. Though it has been pointed out that Peco is a little like Hotel California; you can check out any time you like... It' isn't quite falling off a cliff as publishing schedules being what they are, I'm currently working on the December issue, there will be bits of my sticky-fingered sub-editing appearing into the new year and even some well-polished photos in the January CM. I'm sure the population will be thankful for the sudden drop in semi-colons in 2023.
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Sunday 2 October 2022
As with all Parkside kits the body is good, but the chassis mouldings are a bit of a curate's egg, seemingly in a softer black plastic and less crisp. In most cases I would replace the buffer heads at least. Here though, far from the spares box, I made do with the supplied parts. Breakages are likely and if you get through the build without losing one of the axlebox tiebars then you've done pretty well. I didn't and the unseen one has been replaced with plastic strip. The eight gusset plates are awful, and I've replaced most with some plastic sheet bits which was quicker than trying to make the supplied parts work.
This suggests that the kit is crap... it isn't, just that there are a couple of things that can be improved. Peco now supply this with transfers so even better. Half a dozen similar ones to buy and build.
Piccys of the real thing here.
Wednesday 21 September 2022
There was a time when I wouldn't have given the range of Peco platform parts a second glance. However, with the building of Hopwood I was honour-bound to use as much of the Peco/Ratio/Wills range as possible and aim it at the novice, so they seemed logical. I wouldn't say that this was a a road to Damascus moment, but I became aware that the rather old fashioned clip-together and paper overlay construction had a certain amount of merit and was quite adaptable. There were a lot of scraps left over and I topped this up with a further pack from a well known North-West retailer.
The biggest physical change is to reduce the height slightly. I'm guessing that these come from the era where a strip of foam underlay was considered almost compulsory under the track, so they are slightly on the lofty side to allow for this. There are inward protrusions designed to retain the crossmembers and these were used as a guide to rest a razor saw against giving a consistent reduction of about 3mm. This brings the overall height down to a more logical buffer level.
The packs are supplied with paper overlays which I used on Hopwood here. In this case I wanted a more modern concrete facing and also a dumb end without a ramp which would have been quite rock and roll in 1980. This represents a new platform built purely for multiple units, so barrow ramps are superfluous. I'll add a set of steps and a fence/gate. I have a problem with concrete and usually end up mixing pale greys and sand to get a close colour. Here though there is quite a bit to do so Games Workshop Screaming Skull has been used. The top is still in its natural state and will be coated with a lighter grey.
Monday 19 September 2022
Sunday 18 September 2022
Trade was good and more or less what you would expect. Though there seemed to be a dearth of the useful small switchers of the 44T or S2 variety. The manufacturing side of the hobby doesn't appear to be looking at what may be popular, or maybe that's just it... it's sold out.
The catering, which is high on my agenda was a little lacking: the heavily advertised bacon and sausage baps having a 25 min wait; at lunchtime? When did you expect the demand for food? I've done a couple of catering turns at small shows in the past and would have been embarrassed at that. That aside good for a small specialist show and good to meet up with a couple of old friends.