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