Saturday, March 25, 2023

Saturday Film Club: The Future of Rail

'The Future of Rail' is an ameteur film, with superb production values, aimed at showcasing many of the different areas of the heritage railway movement that people can get involved in. Taking inspiration from Edgar Anstey's British Transport Films, notably 'A Future on Rail' (1957), this film aims to take you back to that era in scenes that were very much filmed in the 21st Century!

Friday, March 24, 2023

Off to the (virtual) show tomorrow


It's virtual show time in Margate, and the rest of the world, tomorrow.

You'll be pleased to know that I'm taking part, sometime between 10 and 10:30 I'm told. No idea who I'm sharing the stage with, but I'm sure it's going to be an interesting day. 

Hornby Virtual Show details. 

It will be fascinating to see how this goes. We ran four virtual shows under the World of Railways banner during the peak Covid years, and while an enormous amount of work, they were also good fun. At the time, I wondered if they would survive lockdown and the return of physical events. 

While we have no plans for more in the future, I can still see the concept having legs. After all, once you understand that real and virtual events are really different things, there's a lot you can do online that can't be replicated in a hall, and vice versa. Online, you get a one-to-one experience with the modeller, a bit like a demo in real life, but with better production values and less waffling. No-one runs ballasting demos, for example, because it's not something you want to do 20 times a day, but you can for a virtual show as the demo only has to be carried out once. 

I'm less convinced by layout watching. The films shown can involve the builder providing a comentry, but it's not the same as leaning on a barrier, watching an open-ended operating session. 

The problem is, freed of lockdown, will people want to give up a Saturday watching a virtual show? It will be interesting to find out.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Budget buildings and display cases in April's BRM

We've just "enjoyed" the budget from the chancellor, so now it's down to me to show you some proper cost-savings. 

First up, I channel my inner Ahern. 

This goods shed is based on one found in his book of modelling buildings, and a version of it can be seen on his Madder Valley Railway, now installed at Pendon. 

As a scratchbuild, it's not too difficult, and I think I've caught the character of the original. There are a couple of interesting techniques used too. Young Phil would enjoy this article, no money but plenty of cardboard meant I made a lot of buildings for my train set. 

Next, what to do with your nice new loco? 

Put it in a display case of course!

And I show you how to create cases for very little outlay using stuff you might otherwise throw away. 

Finally, I've had the camera out again. 


I spotted Paul Spencer's excellent layout "Splott" at DEMU last year. At 18ft long, including fiddle yards, it's not huge, but there's bucket loads of detail. Lovely industrial buildings too. There's no need for a backscene with this layout, the structures do the job!

And it's BRM's 30th birthday! I remember spotting the mag in a newsagents in a row of shops under my sister's first flat during a break from doing some DIY. At the time, the bright and breezy look really stood out in an era where most mags were in black and white. I bought a copy, which I still have, but never thought I'd be part of the team a couple of decades later.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Testing the Loco Remote



Steam tram control will be via a Loco Remote unit. The cheapest version was selected as I don't need sound or lights on this model. Power will be from some cheapo LiPo batteries picked up on ebay. 

Assembling the wiring is simple as long as you pay attention to the instructions. Make sure the battery is plugged in the right way around, and it's hard to go wrong really. 

Once plugged in, a blue LED flashes to say all is well, th device sets up a WiFi hotspot. Log on to this using a suitable device (I'll be using an old smartphone) and then go to the web page mentioned in the instructions. Up pops the controls and away you go. 

This testing has shown everything works, I just need to figure out where to install it. Initial thoughts involve the water tanks I need to scratchbuild. There should be plenty of room in there, and access should be easy to arrange with removable tops. 

In the meantime, I'm just enjoying playing with my new toy. At some point I need to get it on some track to test the duration the little battery offers.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Steam tram boiler


Work on the steam tram has been very limited recently, but I have had time to look at the boiler. 3D printed on a filament printer, it needs some smoothing. 

My plan involved a coat of Halfords High-Build primer. Anoyingly, my can has spent too long in a cold garage and spluttered out like a low-pressure hose. Since I planned to sand the stuff anyway, I decided I didn't care. the job was to get a thick coat on. 

While doing this, I realised that a pragmatic decision had been taken by Boot Lane when designing the kit, the loco is a saddle tank. Now, I assume this means the ability re-use an existing boiler, and it provides space for the suggested LocoRemote controller, but steam trams are normally side tank engines.

I'll have to do something about that.