Saturday 18 November 2023

Saturday Ramble: Swedish death cleaning

 Stuff: Age: Ratios: Probabilities: Individually meaningless, but combined they create an interesting set of questions. I'm not yet in the bracket of old, but there is a lighter significant birthday in the near-ish future and this does push this combo into a sharper focus. This alongside watching our Mr. Hill's frustration in clearing the effects of a deceased relative with a lot of things that may have come in useful one day, but now certainly won't. This is not an entertaining watch and the heated moments relayed to me solidify my thoughts on this matter. Particularly when there are items such as lathes and pillar drills which I thought would be snapped up but appear to be useless. 

The forth of my keywords; probabilities, is the hardest to define. The third, is the end result. How much of this stuff will we ever use? You know, the one day things that we can't bear to throw out. My worst should but can't is the set of American stock that was bought at low cost in the 90s and which would be astronomical to replace at current prices. Is there a plan for it? No. I can't settle on one that makes me actually push the go button. The ratio is the time expected/stuff in stock/desire. Even if I continued at the current build rate and enjoyed the physical ability to do so, I've probably got 15 more layouts to build. That's the maths. The probability is a lot lower, as is the storage capability for these. So I'm building to sell. Is that what it comes down to? Building things just to dispose of them to build more purely to use the 'stuff' up. There must be a better way as that doesn't sound very enjoyable.

Much of this is down to the fact that there is no grand opus - I'm not that sort of modeller. One wonders how much 'one day' stuff Peter Denny had in stock when he popped. Is this just the butterflies like me or do the one man/one project bods also suffer from this problem?

The title of this post is intriguing (look it up) essentially the idea is more about clothing/drawer contents and the like that lifestyle TV is so fond of. We are in a similar, but wildly different game as there is much more emotion tied up in modelling than a pair of M &S trousers. How do we keep doing what we do for as long as possible, without any excess at the end for others to clear and dump in a skip? Think that won't happen? Think again. Your prized work is going to landfill and there will be nothing you can do about it. There's a way to square all this, but I've yet to work out what it is.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Let's go railway modelling...

I'm hesitant about this, but it would be easy to let it be the elephant in the room. I wrote the main text back in 2019 and the whole gist of the project was for it to be a general book that would appear in bookshops, not just via the model trade and obviously to tie up with the Channel 5 Challenge series. Events move on, as do characters, and I only realised that it had been relaunched when the phone and emails arrived last week as it appeared on the RM editorial. So here it is with me grinning stupidly and wearing the spare specs. I have to admit I prefer the  more subtle original cover below, but note that the AotC makes an appearance on both. Of all the layouts I've built...

It is of course a team effort and most of the work was done by Tim Rayner, young Craig and Steve Flint, graphically steered by Adrian and the art dept. chaps. At the time of writing I have not seen a copy so I can't comment further, but of course, do rush out and buy one from Smiths or wherever.


Tuesday 14 November 2023


'Check the ULEZ compliance.' This was a new pre-show trip question. Easy enough, you just punch your reg' number in to the website and you get a yes or no. Interestingly the exit onto the A3 post show was no easier and there seemed to be no drop in traffic whatsoever. Draw your own conclusions.

Tolworth is a regular trip both as exhibitor and punter. Well organised and without glitches. The FOH cafe is limited and we had previously discovered a great 'caff' around the corner which has become part of the day... in fact we went there first. 

I wonder if I have become a little jaded. The layouts were in the med-high bracket, on a par with Farnham a couple of weeks back with a good mix, though low on N and continental, but nothing that truly inspired. I understand that is more about me than the layouts. One complaint (again) was not the quality, but the complete nonchalance  when it came to operation in many cases. The above, being run mainly by junior club members was fast and slick and gave a real lineside feel. On the flip Kensington (two down and essentially doing the same thing) was absolutely stunning, easily the stand-out in modelling terms, but I don't think I saw one train leave or arrive without breaking or derailing. Heartbreaking stuff. If you've put that much effort into the very high class modelling then...?? One thing I did take a closer look at was Roy Hickman's scenic stand which for once wasn't crowded. Old school and reminiscent of Mike Gill's work in RM in the '70s and '80s, but was almost my 'ping' moment. 

Show 8

Parking 6

Rucksacks 4

Catering (off-site) 11.


Friday 10 November 2023

Rhiw running session

 A decision was made to have regular running sessions for the current exhibition animals. This rather than the last minute check before a show. This week Rhiw came out of the box and some of the new stock was introduced, the short wheelbase picking up a couple of bumps in the industrial part of the FY that had been quickly laid with scrap code 100 in the spring. This can be rectified in comfort.

Class 121 (from a Lima conversion) stands at the platform awaiting custom.

Monday 6 November 2023

Parkside vac-braked minerals

The weekend saw a push to get a rake of vac-braked 16 tonners painted up. These representing what must have been the last use of these on scrap traffic. With four left to do it was a case of looking at Paul Bartlett's excellent wagon photo site and drawing some inspiration.  Nothing fancy involved; Parkside PC19 kits built more or less as per the instructions and painted (mostly) Games Workshop Morfang Brown. One got a wash of Humbrol 33 before the ModelMaster transfers went on. Then two greys and orange dabbed on with a cheap brush with the bristles cut down.  Proper Saturday afternoon modelling. Couplings to add and we're good to go.


Sunday 5 November 2023

Seething station

 Only a few details and some scenic patching to do now, all well ahead of the deadline of Beccles on June 1st. Most of this scene is either s/h junk or other peoples chuck-outs. I bought a bag full of tatty trees off a club stand and refurbed a couple with some fluff to finish the corner. The figure is again club stand fare and is the obvious Airfix (there are two tobacco tins worth of various Airfix and Slaters bits to work through and this reduces the pile by one. The Wills station building is a chuck out from Greg Dodsworth. This was disassembled and rebuilt with a lamp room extension and my now favoured black plasticard glazing. The slightly unlikely sited post box is from the same source and is from the Dart range. Added here purely to add a splash of colour to catch the eye. 

The greenery is again a chuck out, mainly from the bundle of stuff given to me by John Wright when he gave it all up and moved back westwards. This comprised of static grass, flock and the Wills cottage kit that appeared  (and indeed still exits) on Tal-coed. The layout now sold means that the cottage has effectively followed its original owner to Somerset. Hedging is cheap scouring pad covered in flock and bushes are horsehair treated in the same fashion. In short: a few friends generosity and some careful purchases mean that (including track) this scene cost time and about £20. My answer to all those bleating about how expensive it's all become, is that I totally agree, but it's more about how you approach it, more than how deep your pockets are.

If you've enjoyed this waffle,  show the love.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Scandinavian filth

A shuffling of trestles and stock boxes saw Svanda set up and run. It needs a little bit of a clean and there was a conversation about upgrading the scenics.  Running wise there were no major issues (or none that we weren't aware of) and it enters its twelfth year; well into secondary education now. The reason for the flurry of activity is that it is lead layout for 2024 and will be appearing at the Steyning show in March (first and not the last plug) so a good looking at is required. The goods shed has been removed and the area is due for some redevelopment. Mr. Hill has never been happy with this so photos have been studies and a new shed is on the way.

Some quick phone shots were taken of the running...

... and then there's this. A clue for possible new projects.


Saturday 28 October 2023

Saturday Ramble: Exhibitions and inspirations

 It's been quiet here for a month. Not deliberate, but just busy getting out there as well as juggling two layout builds. Despite me saying that shows had decreased, I've managed to pop (literally in some cases) to four in the last couple of weeks. The fist was Farnham at Aldershot. Quality general show with medium to high exhibits. Arun Quay being one where I always find a detail that I'd not noticed before. 

Parking 10

Show 10

Rucksacks 2

Catering 7

The oddball out of the quartet was not quite an exhibition, but an 009 group open day which I popped into en-route to Gt Yarmouth. Half a dozen NG layouts of various scales shown by the Norfolk and Suffolk Group in a very bijou hall west of Beccles. Super friendly with lots of chat and banter. 

Show 10

Catering 10

Parking 10

Uckfield. The premier club show in the south-east by a country mile. Very finescale and yet gets a very local family audience mixed with the anoraks. Apparently I hit it just right at 3.45 on the Sunday when it was reasonably quiet. I wasn't going due to time constraints, but Adrian had managed to gather most of the Iain Rice layouts in one place, so I wasn't going to miss Butley Mills. This has been EM'd and slightly extended and is in the middle of being refurbed. It was the stand out layout for me as well as the ex-Tregarrick and East Suffolk Light stock that was displayed.

Hard to give anything but tens for Uckfield, but it does suffer from being too popular and can get uncomfortably crowded.

I'd not been to the Newhaven club show before, largely as it has always clashed with the now defunct ExpoNG. Without being derogatory, it is very typical of many club shows in the south and has a very 'club' feel. This isn't a bad thing and judging by the crowded rooms at 11.00 many think it's worth a visit. Much more there that I'd expected and there were a couple of stand outs, notably the LBSCR O gauge and the club's Fencehouses NCB layout. Parking is street and a bit hit and miss especially on a wet day. It's hard to mark following the ultra finescale Uckfield bash, but I'd certainly make a return visit. I like club shows and the joyous club stand rummage.

Show 9

Catering 8

Parking 6

What this all adds up to is a very different experience at each and I wonder what you might take away if you only visited just one. Would it encourage you into the hobby? For the newby, Newhaven and Beccles would be hard to beat. Uckfield is less chatty and while not snooty, may feel unachievable. Knowing your audience is key and all four get it spot on in this respect. If I could would I change anything? Nope, loved them all.

Thursday 12 October 2023

Occupation bridge weight loss

 The B layout. With the A layout reaching an approximation of completeness it was time to start getting a few corners in place on the RM epic. Lumpy narrow gauge layouts need a lot more planning as there are more verticals to play with. This isn't particularly drastic, but there are gauging jobs.

 The first here was to check the swing of a Peco Bowsider coach and judge the minimum width needed. 40mm is super tight so 50 was taken as a compromise. Likewise while the FR coach would go under if I joggled everything up a smidge, I wanted a Bachmann Baldwin to be able to be factored in, so a 7mm lift was added to the foot using the scrap wings. All painted up and enough to gauge the scenery around it.

Monday 9 October 2023

The yard

 Work continues on the 'A' layout. A big push in the last couple of days to finish the green stuff and to get the ballast down. The later has not been plain sailing with the first dry mix being hoovered up and a new lighter mix going down. Then I made the mistake of using static grass before the ballast was dry....

I love the finish that static grass gives, but dislike its love of floating everywhere. Sawdust and ground foam are so much more precise in application.

Friday 6 October 2023

Scrap loads for 16t minerals

Both Mk1 and Mk2 Rhiw were based around the movement of scrap and chemical traffic through the scene. Mk2 has been backdated slightly to 78-83 and not only leans more on first generation DMUs, but there is a subtle shift in wagonary. The huge slab SSAs are now on their way out and incoming are a brace of modernisation plan 21t and 16t minerals. The later are vac-fitted (Parkside PC19s) and were cascaded down to scrap haulage as the coal traffic moved to MGR wagons and longer w/b types. The upshot is that these need removable loads. These are painted up by self, but assembled by Mr. Hill who seems to have a bottomless well of small plastic kit parts that can be chopped up for this use. 

Incidentally, we are looking for a couple more shows for 2024 for Rhiw. Contact via the profile button top right.

Lastly congrats to (regular commenter here) Simon and new wife Gilly who tie the knot today.

If you've enjoyed this waffle, show the love.


Wednesday 4 October 2023


 Baseboard building. This to be ready for June and for a certain magazine. A change this time and a deliberate move away from the RTR ply boards. Two reasons for this: 1. I really can't write a whole article about gluing a pre-cut board together for the forth time, and 2. this needed cut aways at the front - far easier to design this in from the get-go, and also more economic.  The big jump is that these are the largest units I've ever built; not by much, but they do call for some anti-twist bracing which I wouldn't normally bother with. Other than that, the same as every other exhibition boards that I've done in the last 25+ years.

Monday 2 October 2023

Horsham/Dorking show

 This was a weird one. Not as in creepy paedo games teacher, but weird in how it was put together and not advertised. I'll admit that the trip north was tentative and hopes not high. The pluses were a haul of static grass and some RTP trees, but the rest was well...

The back story as recounted to me this afternoon was that both clubs have shrunk to the point of making it tricky to organise exhibitions individually (at this point see the reams of stuff that I've written here and in RM about the hobby's future). The upshot is that, at least for this issue, they have combined and put on a joint bash. Again, I may have to wave my opinion and say that this may have not been the best move. 1. little or no advertising 2. no signage. I knew roughly where it was, but I'm not going to direct people in. 3. a pretty meh level of stuff, one pro trader and bods flogging dead people's trains. 4. very minimal catering, just tea, crisps and chocolate, nothing lunch-ish. 

It wasn't busy. Not surprisingly. Even at the peak time of midday Sunday. Though apparently they broke even on Saturday. The stand outs for me were a couple of 009s and the above infant 4mm Stephens layout above which promises to be good when finished. Rule One: you need a couple of big boys to bring the crowds in. There's plenty in the Sarf Lundun to coast area so no need to shell out  for beds or on big fuel. Rule Two: this is your (and our) shop window. If you want more club members, this ain't going to cut it.

It all felt very well meaning, but lacked any drive or buzz. Harsh?        Honest.

Show 4

Catering 3

Rucksacks 0

Parking 10

Saturday 30 September 2023

Waving goodbye to Rye

A fond farewell this afternoon to the layout that has perched to my right for a good number of years. Built as a fairly quick micro layout project and as a one day exhibition beast, Dury's Gap has been somewhat successful, though perhaps not as intended. The exhibition showings have been few and where it has scored has been as a photo backdrop, not only for various rolling stock portraits, but more recently to drop the odd building project onto for a snap. Here receiving more fame than intended when one of these ended up as a Wills advert to show the slate walling sheet.
The new owner is not new to layouts built hereabouts and (ten years ago I was informed) purchased the Western Region N gauge layout Unnycoombe. Dury's Gap is of course itself a recycled baseboard and under the Peco Code 75 lurks the ghostly underpinnings of a 7mm NG layout in the form of Morton Stanley, parts of which still exist in a shoebox in the loft and may yet see the light of day again.

Remarkably, Unnycoombe is still extant and a phone photo came my way showing some of the subtle upgrades. As I've opined before (and not always been well received) upgrades can go one of two ways in the eye of the original builder, but I'm particularly taken with these,
especially the short avenue of trees which has given it a whole different vibe and one which suits it very well. The addition of Dury's Gap appears to be the extension of a collection.

If you've enjoyed this waffle, show the love.

Thursday 28 September 2023

North Leith

Back when I was in short trousers, RM published a RoM article called North Leith (Sept 78). This may well have been North Korea to me at the time, but I found the scene fascinating with its short stock and triangular platforms. Later I worked out the the layout must have been unworkable due to the track that had been removed in order to compress it. That said, it still remains an influential piece. Last week I ended up where else but North Leith, though I didn't immediately start joining the dots; the area has been greatly developed and of course the line shut.

Into Edinburgh I peeped over a parapet in Leith Walk (as we are all bound to do) and surprisingly found an overgrown line (below) the line the falls off the bottom of the centre of the map. Where does this go? North Leith. A bit of research found that the track stops short of the waterway and the rest of the line is now cycleways. This information came later and after another peep over a bridge and finding Bonnington station still complete with platforms (map centre). My guess at the station building proved correct and is the splendid squat building which descends from street to track level.


What's this got to do with modelling? Nothing of course. The station is/was a bland commuter halt (with remarkably narrow staggered platforms) and not really worth a second glance except it's fun to stand for a few second and imagine what it was before WW2 and be just slightly thankful that the Scots don't casually sweep things away, but put them to good use and leave just enough history for me to want to go online and see if my guessing is proved correct 45 years after I bumped into the North Leith line.


Sunday 17 September 2023

The 009 Society 50th anniversary

Well that was worth a trip. Most of the model railway societies started their lives in the 1970s and the 009 bunch is no different. 1973 being 50 years ago suggests a serious party and this didn't disappoint. I'd never been to Statfold Barn before, but I'll put that to one side for a moment as it deserves a better post than I could fit in here. Safe to say it is a one-man funded enterprise which is simply outstanding and highly professional. 

The 009 Society had occupied a huge 'barn' and filled it with some of the finest of the Society's membership layouts. Actually taking a look at these was hard with so many old friends to talk to, all topped off with what was a surprisingly impressive meal (save the coffee). The final shot was being dragged out to the car park to view a Garn-influenced layout to be shown on day two.



 Things we have to research part 431: After making a big deal about The Seething Pigs there had to be some. Despite not having ever bought any, I found a trio in a tobacco tin. Now suitably researched and painted. The Seething Pigs made real.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Seething Bridge

And so it came to pass that the bridge was built. This, like everything else on this project, was to be as close to zero cost as possible. Any bit of scrap and offcut was inspected to assess usefulness and a selection of (unmatching) brick sheet was selected. These were assembled into piers and joined in a flimsy manner with what I think are Wills barge boards, here masquerading as small girders. 

The structure as repeatedly checked for fit before throwing some slightly dried up end-of-the-pot Humbrol acrylic at it. The form is one of a farm occupation bridge and thus quite lightweight though at a scale 10' wide a Coopercraft AEC will just pass through.
I'm on a roll now


Monday 28 August 2023

Mech-horse holiday

I may have put this up before, but it's worth repeating. The 'different time' tag is evident and some of the commentary flies in the face of modern environmental sensibilities. However there is much here which could be taken as ahead of its time and it's a shame that it was not seen as worth pursuing.


Sunday 27 August 2023

The cinder path

 Before getting the back board and profile on I started on the platform area. Some thick card (ex-ring folder I think) brought the level up to the rail. This was cut to shape and sealed around the edges with some neat PVA. When this had gone off the two piece were stuck with UHU and given a couple of coats of Wilko 'smoke grey' emulsion from a tester pot. This will seal and give a base colour before the cinder ballast top coat goes on later. A piece of thin card was shaped to form  the base of the narrow access path and was also treated to a drop of paint. Already shaping up.

Thursday 24 August 2023

009 fiddle yard

 For the first time ever I remembered to paint the fiddle yard deck before I laid the track. Unless you go to extreme lengths to put up 6' high screens, the yard is always visible and in many cases appears to be more interesting than the layout to exhibition viewers. This is a bodge being the rump of the board that I used for the demo layout for the Welsh book. Now lopped off to 29" x 10" it sits uncomfortably staggered back on the main board. Yes, I could have done a custom board, but hate wasting stuff. In any case there were so many cut-outs and holes I had to resurface it with a bit of hardboard. It's bordered front/back/end with off-cuts of 6mm MDF set at jaunty angles, more to stop stock falling off than for any aesthetic reason. Seen here with one point of a pair down giving a minimum length of road of 16" (more or less the max for the loop) and plenty of room for placing stock/tea etc.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Track painting

 Need to get a move on with this as time is ticking and there are other projects on the horizon. Fiddle yard now painted up, and here all the track is sprayed with the now usual mix of primers and camouflage brown. With this done it is a relatively gentle run down of scenic bits. The buildings are done and are simple drop-ons, so just landscaping and fluff addition.

Sunday 20 August 2023

Dury's Gap - For sale


Recent events and a need to to create some space has had me umming and ahhing over the future of Dury's Gap. It only managed two shows, but has been around for quite a while having been used as a photo plank for numerous small projects including some Peco publicity material. There are photos scattered throughout the blog and of course its own page on the tags not to mention a three page piece in this months RM. I've come down to the fact that it needs to be moved on and mention this here ahead of any other advertising.

The package would include the layout and FY, but no stock. It is a tad over 6' x 1' in total and sits on a standard exhibition table. It's a simple plug and play needing only suitable OO gauge stock and a simple controller.  It's a ready to go small exhibition layout.

Cost: £300.00, collection from Sussex.