Monday, October 15, 2018

Getting the paint on

Prime some MDF and the amount it soaks in varies more than I'd expected. This isn't a problem for what will be a heavily weathered loco, but if I'd been aiming at shiny, there would have been some sanding between coats. Maybe even some sanding sealer first.

Anyway, I'm quite pleased with look of the model in grey. It's a little cartoony, but in an appropriately garden railway way. The scratchbuilt exhaust, made from several bits of plastic tube, looks fine, even if I have had to cheat on the way it exists the bonnet doors.

I fancies painting this loco yellow and found a pot of Precision faded signal yellow to do the job through my airbrush.

The radiator was harder. First attempts at masking were scuppered by the bonnet handles so I decided to hand paint. Fine until it comes to the mesh where you can't get paint far enough back. In desperation, I cut a square hole in some card, slightly smaller than the central core. This acted as enough of a mask to let me spray with an aerosol, the overspray being limited to the other black bits around the edge which I handled with a brush.

After that, a quick-dry brush with some gunmetal and it's looking good. On to proper dirt!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

11 Swapmeet lessons


With a stash of diecast trams and stuff to dispose of, my Dad and I headed to a toyfair at the NEC. We'd not been to one for many years, eBay having eaten all the little local events, and wondered how they had changed. 

We learned some things:
  • The NEC event is big. 
  • Walking past stalls looking sideways makes your neck hurt after a while. 
  • There is a lot of stuff, and some of it is very tempting. 
  • A surprising amount of traders haven't bought a little machine to take card payments. There must be some big wodges of cash walking around the hall, or a lot of expensive models going back in the vans they came in. 
  • You are going to come back with stuff. This was not the point of going. 
  • Toys you remember as a kid will be on sale and this makes me feel old. 
  • Some of the stuff is just junk. 
  • Some children got Matchbox cars and never took them out of their boxes. I feel sorry for them.
  • I still want to buy a stupidly expensive  toy car and "Broooooom" it along the concrete floor. 
  • A disappointing number of punters do not wash their hands after going to the toilet. 
  • Realising this, and knowing that they will have been handling the goods for sale makes me feel icky. 

We still fancy the fun of having a stall one day. Maybe not at the NEC (£55 a table) but at a smaller event. Of course, being there all day means more temptation...

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Saturday Film Club: Magnarail and Faller boats



Thanks to Mike Bowman for pointing me at this series of videos by klatchco56 who is working on many different ways to use the Magnarail system I used in the July 2015 issue of BRM

I've picked a video that makes use of the ingenious Dutch system to operate a model boat - alongside a model powered by a Faller car system mechanism. Both are very neat and have given me ideas for future models. But then I always have ideas for future models...

Friday, October 12, 2018

La France fire engine - a childhood dream realised

Corgi La France fire engine

When I was 5 or 6, I remember going over to Johnathan Simmonds house to play. I probably took some cars and because of this, we spent time perusing the Corgi car catalogue. The model that stuck in my mind was the magnificent La France fire engine.

I don't really know why.I've never been particularly into them. I never played firemen as far as I remember. Something to do with being afraid of heights maybe. 

We had a friend who was a fireman, it's pertly his fault that I'm into model railways. Since he is American, I could have wondered if it was the sort of thing Earl drove. Mostly though, I think it just looked magnificent and bit exotic. Being the biggest toy in the book helped a bit too. 

The trouble was, La France was too expensive for me. Maybe if I'd really wanted it as a major Christmas present I'd have been granted my wish, but there was Lego and I liked that a lot more. 

I've not given much through to the model since. Maybe I looked at them second hand (£80 for a boxed version) and wondered it I should scratch that childhood itch. Corgi even re-issued the model a few years go, which spoilt things slightly, I'd want a 1970s one. They were proper.

Corgi La France fire engine rear view 
Anyway, there I was at a toy fair the other day and on the last stall I visited, there was a "play worn" model. For £4.50. I hesitated and the decided that for little more than the price of a pint, I might as well. 

I'm glad I did. The model needs a new windscreen, but it has all its tyres and most importantly, figures. The neat mechanism that winds the ladder skyward still works. The raising one isn't quite so healthy, but I can live with this. 

The moral of the story is, wait long enough and whatever it is you are looking for will appear at the price you want to pay. Mind you, 42 years is a long wait!

So, today's question: What was the childhood toy you coveted but never owned? And would you be tempted to buy it today? 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Flowers, occupational crossings and lots of cottages in BRM


Model railway builders love level crossings, but the prototype hates them and will put a lot of effort in to avoiding bringing roads and rails together on the level.

By far the majority of crossing now are "occupational crossings". Intended for farmers moving animals and machinery. The rules are less exacting, but then they aren't on public roads.

I've built just such a crossing using the Ratio kit as the basis. One of the problems with this is that the kit has to try and cover a lot of options so you can't just blindly stick bits together and plonk in place. It helps to know what you are doing, or at least read the words of someone who spent a bit of time trying to work things out.

How different can you make three versions of a simple card kit?

Pretty different as it turns out. Starting with a standard build, I gradually add to the work to produce 3 variations on a theme. None of the jobs I do is difficult, but several make huge differences to the finished model. I suggest that most modellers can adopt a pick'n'mix approach to the tasks for their versions, so I'm sure that many more options are possible, but this will give everyone a starting point.


On the DVD, I'm trying different methods of making flower for the layout. Adding a bit of colour to otherwise drab scenes is one of my favourite tasks and there are lots of opportunities to do this. I'll admit that demonstrating them on video wasn't the easiest job I've had, but you'll get the idea.


Andy York and I took a trip to Tracks The The Trenches and a short version of the film we made is on the DVD. There's a lot of looking as oddball little locos and some interesting layouts too. Digital readers get the full 45 minute version of this film with some extra interviews and trundling train footage. 

Talking of digi, there are a bucket load of extras on there. This month was particularly good for content we'd got in store, AND you receive free back issues of Garden Rail and Engineering in Miniature magazines.