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
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the way out on Saturday and had been replaced by a swisher, but inadequate, 16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.
Show the love and chip in for a cup of something steaming. https://www.buymeacoffee.com/chrisford2Q
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.