Friday, August 17, 2018

Social history


While my model of The Hellingly Hospital Railway might be retired from the exhibition circuit due to my lack of time to be a "proper" exhibitor, I'm still interested in the history of the line. There keep being little surprises along the way and it is a fascinating subject.

The latest "news" is that the hospital had a football team. I find this from the November 1955 issue of Lewes FC News - bought via eBay for a couple of quid.

Unsurprisingly, the hospital didn't have many people to chose from when picking a team. I'm assuming the list was limited to staff, inmates being ineligible to play.

Despite this, playing in Red and White, they beat both Burwash and Hastings Civil Service. Well done lads!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Huts and holes in BRM

It's the skills issue of BRM this month, so a couple of slightly different articles from the norm.

Soldering is one of those things that scares people and especially structural solder - that is making things rather than just joining up bits of wire.

I've tried to de-mystify the process of building an etched kit by using a simple shed from Roxey Mouldings as a test piece. At a fiver, it's disposable enough, but if you look at many sheds, the end result doesn't have to be well made to look right.

Then I look at the job of making holes. Not just holes in models, and not just with drills, although of course we cover both in the piece.


Awngate by Michael Campbell is featured and makes use of a set of photos I took a few months ago at the lancing show. Not a big layout, bagginenough interesting shots was a challenge, but I'm pleased with the results on the page. It's nice to spread my wings a little doing this sort of thing. 

Nothing on the DVD from me this month, but digital readers get an "extra" where I look at bending bars to supplement the etched article.

BRM September 2018.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Warehouse Wednesday: Four roads crossing keepers hut

Four Roads crossing keepers hut

If you are going to be left looking after a level crossing on the Isle of Man, you will want the company to provide you with some shelter from the rain. 

This they did with this lovely little stone hut. Now superfluous thanks to the automatic gates, it has been restored by the Steam Railway Supporters Association.

Sadly, the limited parking on a main road precluded me from taking a few measurements, that and I'd have had to stroll around on the railway to get at it. With the pie'n'mash train due not long after the picture was taken, I could have made the news as a casualty, not something I wish to do. 

A tidy and and tiny building that would look great modelled in a larger scale in anyones garden, or perhaps the centrepiece of a Manx diorama style layout.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Commlock research

What a can of worms this has turned out to be!

If you think that researching a steam loco is tough, just try pinning down the details of a prop made for a 1970s TV show.

Obviously, the very 21st century Internet is your friend. Sci-fi geeks can be relied on to stuff masses of information on-line. They love details and laboriously check everything about their favourite show.

Starting with the excellent Space 1999 catacombs, we find that not all the props shared the same colour scheme.
  • Photos on the side were either upright or sideways. 
  • The surround to the screen was either black or grey.
  • Buttons could move around - especially on the "wonky buttons" proper where they appear to have slid down. 
  • Not all the buttons were numbered. 
  • The belt clip changed, and could move away from the back to the side. 

The whole thing was, like most TV props, horribly crude. In fact I'd suggest the Century Castings version is actually better then the real props. I'm going to make a best guess that looks nice to me. I might be nerdy, but not enough to closely examine a single episode and pic a specific example. It is fascinating though and a bit of an insight into the TV magic that produces these shows. I suppose the props didn't get a lot of love at the time, they were just "things" to be held and used to make the show. Certainly not the objects of veneration fans now consider them. Most ended up in a skip at the end of the series.

And the colour? A Ford grey is suggested, but I think Humbrol 64 will do the job. How battered I make it look is down to me.

Photos of a non-working prop. 
Photos of a prop with a working TV screen.
A suprisingly good Lego version.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Century Castings Commlock


I've built a lot of models, but never had a go at a full-size film or TV prop before.

One of my favourite TV shows is Gerry Anderson's Space 1999 - at least series one of this before the curse of Fred Freiberger hit. It had the best looking and most practical spaceship in the Eagle Transporter and the special effects were great. OK, the stories could be a bit rubbish, but whisper it quietly, quite a lot of the Anderson plots weren't much cop and were saved by the fantastic stuff on the screen.

Anway, every member of the Moonbase Alpha crew carried a commlock around with them. It's a multi-purpose device that is part mobile phone and part door key. Like Dr Who's sonic screwdriver, it can do other things depending on plot requirements, but fortunately, unlike the Dr's tool, never morphed into a magic want to save them the bother of coming up with a convincing plot.

Century Castings produce a vast range of full-size prop copies and the commlock is one of the cheaper ones. It looked simple and a lot of fun.


The main parts are resin castings which need to be joined together. As heavy lumps, I felt some strengthening would be a good idea, so drilled a hole in the middle of the main parts, dropped a bit of brass tube in and then glued everything up with epoxy.


The belt clip needs to be strong and while it fits in a shallow depression, the join has all the appearance of one that won't survive long, so there is more epoxy and some bits of wire.

With assembly complete and any dodgy joins filled, the final stage is a dip in some washing up liquid to remove any grease or mould release before painting.

But what colour? Time for some research...