Tuesday 28 February 2023

SECR wagon

Regulars will know that I am a serial raker through rummage boxes at shows and love an oddball wagon. This typifies the experience. A D&S whitemetal kit complete bought a fair while ago and which has sat in the Teachers Whiskey box that contains all such animals ever since. Just before Christmas I had a couple of spare minutes and pulled it out to see what could be done. Then the research kicked in and I discovered that a) most had not surprisingly gone by the 1920s and b) had also unsurprisingly lost the round ends by the time they reached Southern ownership. No matter. 

A little time spent yesterday finished the basic build and, with all but the usual tweaks and fettling needed for a metal kit, it went together very well and being compensated just rolls through the pointwork. The wheels were downgraded from the 14mm Maunsels to some 12mm Hornby spoked examples as per the history and it is destined for the box marked 'possible light railway'. The East Kent had a pair of similar items, so not stretching the point too far. Some coupling bits and a paint job to do.

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Monday 27 February 2023

The Art of Compromise rises slowly

With BRM's giveaway prize of 2/3rds of the Art of Compromise complete, it was brought to my attention that the new owner has generated an RMweb page to show any future development. This has moved quite quickly into a research project; far more than I ever gave it. The way to find this can be found  here.

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Monday 20 February 2023

The French building in Continental Modeller

My first post-Peco Pub's article hits the shops as of now in CM in the form of the French wayside station building. All the usual Wills sheet and plastic strip work over two pages. Not to mention a cracking small NSB layout and John Crane's Darjeeling rebuild.

Go buy.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Weathering the Janus

One of the failings of Rhiw 1 was the lack of industrials; now, we're spoilt for choice. On my list of jobs was weathering the second of the two such beasts on Rhiw 2, the Oxford Models Yorkshire 0-6-0DM 'Janus'. (You can tell I've been talking to young Craig this evening and I'm reminded to get the descriptions right and in full)

As per usual the paint is a mix of Humbrol and GW acrylics applied in my usual cave man manner with the below. I'm still 10 years old really.

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Monday 13 February 2023

Layout planning on the kitchen table

 Yeah, I'm on  a roll now.

Despite all the up to date tech tools for planning, this is still often the best way forward. The joke is that the afternoon was meant to be for thrashing out some new approaches to a new Hopwood. However that done, the box of buildings that I'd brought got emptied out and things went a little feral. The concentration on the compact urban 1960s style  trainset suddenly became an 009 micro using the opposing sidings plan with a generous hat tip to the 7mm ng Morton Stanley. Not quite what I was expecting and not at the front of the queue. This got worse...'Brent'.

Sunday 12 February 2023

Sunday cinema

 Love him or loathe him there is a wealth of basic ideas here for the ... errr... freelancer.

Saturday 11 February 2023

Saturday Ramble: More current thinking

 Judging by the comments and emails, I seemed to hit a nerve with the last ramble. There are a lot of modellers for whom the pandemic has a) thrown the usual routines out of the window and b) has changed how they think about the hobby in general. We are certainly not where we were and there is an almost weekly report of another medium to large show being pulled, often for the reasons of club member's age, and I would imagine, rising costs. 

The age thing is not unexpected. How many exhibition managers are there under 40... or even 50? Add to that the usual old retainers in the club who man the car park. Now into their eighties and not wanting to stand in the rain all weekend. Who can blame them?

That then is the changing shape and regular readers will know that I'm in favour of the smaller more local shows, and that I'm on record for predicting the above changes during lockdown, both here and on the RM Comment page. If I'm honest I feel that it's a good thing; the whole scene had become crowded and from where I'm standing the clubs were being pushed into a game of top it, feeling that bigger venues and more (expensive) visiting layouts were the way forward. We've hit a reset.

On a more personal level there are two strands of thinking: the first is that I will not alter my show visiting habits and still favour the smaller (and to my mind the more interesting) shows. Secondly, stop chasing my tail like Dill and concentrate on what's in the cupboard and make that the direction and build priority. Essentially this means only glue and paint required in many cases. There are 2.5 likely layout projects post Rhiw 2:

1. An 009 layout of, as yet, undecided theme.

2. A new Hopwood. SF's design brief, which I followed almost to the letter, was geared for the Peco stand at Warley and therefore too short to use for slick exhibition use. The basic visual urban transition period principle was good, just the lack of storage yard space. I'd like another bash at it without the company tie-in.

1/2. Refurb Nigel's Svanda. Still good and 'different'.

This (with Dury's Gap) would give five possible show ponies. 

What more could you want?

Friday 10 February 2023

Replacing the weight in a Class 33

One of the problems with the 33 was the missing steel weight. This was easily rectified by adding sections of lead from the 'secondhand' roll which for some reason lives in the garden. As previously noted, nothing will stick to the plastic that the frame is made from, so with four sections dropped into the battery box recess, I melted two lengths of sparkler rod into the floor to retain. This is a bit rock 'n' roll for most people and I can't see too many taking this approach with a new Heljan item.

I may put this to one side for now as it would need a lot more aesthetic work to get it up to scratch and even a new set of finer wheels. As it stands it's a runner and has been a little sideline fun to get it there.

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Thursday 9 February 2023


 Mr. Hill's WR semaphore now fitted with waggly up and down motion; via a piece of wire and a Ratio pot. None of your buzzy motorised stuff, strictly stick-shift here. Though the prototype would probably have a motor on it in contrary fashion. Signals are a minefield and a bit like history, the right answers vary with who you ask. I'm dotting some static ground discs around in places where I think the protection is needed, though I expect I'll get a more accurate set of plans from some signalling buff at some point.

Four weeks to public debut time.

Tuesday 7 February 2023

All the frees...

 You know how you get dragged down a rabbit hole, especially in the early hours when there is no time limit? 

I picked up a youtube video on servicing Lima diesels; why I don't know, but it engaged me for 20 mins and had a couple of useful tips. Then I remembered the rather decrepit Class 33 that I'd been given. It was unboxed and in a bit of a state. So much so that I didn't even test it. The cruddy wheels where cleaned with a fibre brush till they gleamed and I started to deconstruct it. Keep in mind that this was already 1am. The motor was dismantled and cleaned and the tip of removing any witness mark burrs from the gears was employed.

The main worry was a crack in the frame at the front. No solvent known to man will fix this, so I resorted to using a soldering iron with an old bit, 'smearing' the surfaces together. This works fine. 

The trailing bogie had all its contacts polished and the two bogies were refitted. The weight is missing, but a bit of lead will fix this. The body (posed loose below) was dropped into washing up water and scrubbed with a toothbrush (she'll never know). Guess what? It's come up a treat and purrs along, even over the small radius points and mix of fine and bullhead Peco on Dury's Gap.
Where it will end up, I don't know, but it kind of deserves taking up a notch with a glazing and a spot of painting and renumbering. Let's face it it is probably the best part of forty years old, but how much fun is this?

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Sunday 5 February 2023

Testing Rhiw 2


With the Steyning exhibition on the 12th March creeping up over the horizon there is the need to do a little bit of work on Rhiw 2 to make it at least reasonably presentable. The pile of parts was drawn together at an undisclosed location near a security sensitive airfield (OK, Crawley...) and the whole thing tested. This was its first run post ballasting and aside from the hour chipping away bits of errant ballast, all appeared well. There is still much to do and the more it's looked at, the more little details at picked up. A short list of immediate work was drawn up and I spent part of today making a start on this. The starter semaphore is now stuffed, mounted and operating using Ratio bits and constructed and fitted by our Mr. Hill. The was  quite a bit of discussion about what could be run, and how fluid the period could be to accommodate this.

With regard to the link to Phil's video yesterday: I realised that his noting that the MDF boards were heavy underlined the fact that they are also very robust having originally been used under Rhiw Mk1 and cut down from 3'7" to 3' for the AotC. Something which has been repeated for Rhiw 2 which is exactly the same footprint as the AotC, but with half the pointwork.

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The Art of Compromise resurfaces!

 I have to admit this is a laugh out loud piece from young Phil and a bit of a surprise. I was tempted to offer to take it back again and refit the slide switches.

I believe that the deadline for emailing is today should you want to put the extra work in. 

Still laughing Phil.

Saturday 4 February 2023

Saturday Ramble: The current thinking...

 ...of course this is likely to change, but... The first post this year hinted at some different thinking; well, certainly more considered and very much affected by the pandemic fall-out.

Casting back to March 2020 and I had 10 exhibitions in the book; slightly more than I would usually have and partly due to the interest on the Hopwood, the first Peco layout build. Then it all hit the fan and everything was cancelled. I had sort of assumed that the exhibition managers would look at the previous listings and use them as a base for the re-opening shows. I appear to have been wrong about this and to date have not had one rebooking.  I'm very over it, but it has thrown me into a set of questions and considerations for the future.

1. Do I actually want to do exhibitions?

2. Will I suddenly get a raft of invites?

3. Does this matter?

4. If not, then what?

The answer to to 2. is the easiest - I simply don't know, but doubtful. 1 & 3 are more tricky and include the slippery fish of desire and ego. There is also the small issue of fading shows. 4. is the question of the decade.

I'm not sure how many exhibition layouts that I've been involved with either as a solo or as part of a two-hander. It must be more than ten, but less than twenty. While that doesn't exactly make me a veteran compared to some that I could mention, it does place me in a position where I know what I do and don't like about model railway exhibiting. Let's start with the don'ts: Early starts. I'm an owl; hard-wired for late nights and late mornings. They're at weekends - not my quietest time (Tuesday and Wednesday between midday and 8pm would be far more reasonable). Lastly, managers who think they are doing you a favour.

The do's are better: The sociability. The build target. The chance to exchange ideas and hopefully to entertain.

The answer to No 4. then is unclear, but there is one positive which stands out and that is the build target angle: If there are no exhibitions, then what is the point of building anything? I rarely operate at home and this is usually as part of the testing procedure. The conclusion is (probably) that I require a few shows per year just to keep the momentum going. What next though is a different question altogether.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

David who?

I've been writing the odd piece for RM/CM since last century. Most of these scribblings have been accompanied by photos taken by one of the staff photographers Messers Weal, Flint, Sargent or Tiley, but none of those photosets made the cover. This however breaks two ducks; not only a full article spread by self, but my first (and possibly only) cover shot.
It's in Smiths now.